Do You Send Newsletters?

New recommendations for Newsletters

Some of you are using Mailpoet on your websites to generate newsletters. I have run into a lot of problems sending out my newsletter this month, I have had to send it three times. I checked through my logs and found that a very small number came out last month as well. I have been investigating what has happened.  The top two entries in the image below show there is a problem because rather than a 65%+  opening rate, there is a 4% opening rate.

Continue reading Do You Send Newsletters?


New Guidance on Contact Forms

On many sites there are one of two contact forms used, one is called Form Manager (generally very old sites) and the other is called FS Contact Form. Neither of these form handlers are available now through the WordPress repository. Neither of them are supported any more by their authors. It is very much in your interests to replace them.

I am recommending the removal of the existing contact forms on all websites and replacement with Contact Form 7 and another plugin called Contact Form Redirection.

Both of these are supported contact forms and have current versions compatible with WordPress version 4.9.5.

By using these two plugins it will be possible to achieve the following:

  • Contact Form similar in appearance to your current form
  • Ability to upload an attachment
  • Supports Google Recaptcha version 2.00 (to reduce spam).
  • On screen message to sender to confirm message has been sent
  • Redirection to a Thank You page
  • Ability to format the message that is returned to your organisation
  • Send a copy of the submitted message to the author to confirm submission

It can probably do many more things, but these are a superset of what we are currently supporting on the most advanced sites.

The downside is Contact Form 7 is not that intuitive to use if you are a novice user compared to the former versions. However it is one of the most popular plugins for managing user forms.

Contact me if you need some help. 


IP Geolocation and why it may be important

I frequently use something called IP Geolocation to find out where a user is located for forms, enquiries, or any log evidence of someone doing something to try to establish if they are who they say they are.

It does not work 100% but I would say it works in 99% of cases. The router or gateway you use that your network/ computer is plugged into has an address allocated to it by your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, NTL, etc). For most of us the IP address changes from time to time and is referred to as dynamic. They do this to make sure it is hard to run your own web server from home. If and when you reset your router, when it comes back online it will likely have a new IP address. You can find out what your IP address is by clicking on this link. Continue reading IP Geolocation and why it may be important


More on Fast Secure Contact Form

Many of the newer sites use Fast Secure Contact form. This plugin was withdrawn last weekend following the discovery that someone who had acquired it had attempted to manipulate it to show adverts for payday loans and other things. In this case it never got to the stage where it showed adverts, and everyone that has come back to me has confirmed their site has been upgraded to remove the advertising (or spamvertising as it seems to be called) code.

This is a great shame because the original plugin by Mike Challis worked really well and had a few side benefits from the earlier form manager I used about 6 years ago.

Continue reading More on Fast Secure Contact Form


Ajax Event Calendar no longer supported

Over the past month I have found out that the Ajax Event Calendar is no longer available and no longer supported by the author.

If your site uses this plugin you may continue to use it unless we find a reason not to, such as a vulnerability has been found in it.

How do I know if I have Ajax Event Calendar installed?

It looks similar to this one below from a users point of view:

Continue reading Ajax Event Calendar no longer supported


Electronic Forms

Using Google Sheets for online forms


I have been looking at using Google Docs which are a set of online web based applications. Currently you can create forms, spread sheets, presentations and text based documents online. They do not offer everything that is available with MS Office however they offer greater flexibility to website users because you do not need to have MS Office installed on your computer or device.

You can download a PDF version here.

The main problem is that if you have a moderately complex form it will generally mean it has to be presented in one of the following formats:

Continue reading Electronic Forms


Spam Emails

A message from Sandra:

Because I set up a lot of sites, I see quite a few of the same messages. Here is one you may have seen. It is not from a human.

Contact Us

On: Nov 27, 2015 @ 12:01 PM

  • Name: Sandra
  • Contact Number:
  • Email Address:
  • I wish to contact you about:
  • Your Message: Hi my name is Sandra and I just wanted to drop you a quick note here instead of calling you. I came to your Contact Us | (your name here) page and noticed you could have a lot more traffic. I have found that the key to running a successful website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your niche. There is a company that you can get targeted visitors from and they let you try their service for free for 7 days. I managed to get over 300 targeted visitors to day to my website. Visit them here:

Continue reading Spam Emails


Spam, Spam, Spam

From time to time I get asked the question whether the website is broken because a strange message has come in from a contact form.

Invariably they contain links to somewhere else, usually obfiscated links so you cannot tell where they will go, without going there. They also have completely random text, sometimes just random sequences of characters, and sometimes a passage of text which has no bearing to the function or purpose of the charity website. The text is added to try to get around various spam detection mechanisms.

Why do we get them?

They are sent through comment boxes and forms, and often get around form checking methods. The reason they are being posted on your site is because the settings on your site may instantly publish it. If that happens then the person responsible for sending it have just got some free advertising through your website. Some sites automatically publish comments or form content.  In your case this is deliberately disabled when I publish your site.

here is one example you may have seen: Continue reading Spam, Spam, Spam


Asking your visitors to comment on your site

I completed a Home-Start site this week for Home-Start Bracknell Forest. One of the requests for content was quite unusual compared to the 100+ other charity sites that I have built over the past 3 years.

This group had an old site that I replaced. I was asked to add a feedback page, so they could gather comments from those people that came past the website on their views about the website.

I have used a function that is built into all WordPress websites where you can invite comments on articles (posts and pages). I have turned it on at the bottom of this page so you can see an example and make a comment. You can do this on your site as well (and turn it off again).  But you need to be aware of what might happen.

Catering for the Bots

A growing problem is Form Blasting. This seems to be a relatively new tool in the world of the hackers and fringe groups who use computers to post adverts and links into forms. I have seen several examples over the past month where those that use Form Blasting advertise the fact in one of the forms that is submitted from your website. You pay say £150 and they will place your advert for knock off Gucci bags on 10,000 websites. Continue reading Asking your visitors to comment on your site