SYAF - WEB DESIGN MALAYSIA
How to Run Unproductive Meetings

How to Run Unproductive Meetings

We spent so many times on a 2-hour meeting that could have been an email. You’ll notice the moment where there’s no specific agenda (worse if the meeting has one but nobody sticks to it).

It is pretty easy to run an unproductive meeting. Dragging discussion for hours, delaying your team from getting back to work to make actual progress.

Follow this tips if you want to frustrate your team with long, agonizing meetings:

No set-up until everyone is in the room

Why would you want to connect your laptop to the projectors 5 minutes before everyone come? Let your team see you plugging the right connector cable and configuring the display like a pro. If it doesn’t work, don’t bother to call IT for help until 10 minutes or so have passed. Your team will appreciate your effort and being in a meeting that doesn’t start on time.

Review previous discussions while adding nothing new

Allocate the first 30 minutes for “Confirmation of minutes of the previous meeting.” By pointing out notes from the previous discussion, you may deliberately remind your team which task is still in progress. At this point, avoid adding anything worth to the table. Instead, make it clear to everyone to focus on completing their task. Let them know not to waste time on any unproductive activities.

Don’t prepare an agenda, or skip it if you have one

Outlines for a meeting agenda keep the schedule to wrap the meeting on time. Your agenda makes the entire discussion more focused and involved. Avoid this by walking through your train of thought by talking endlessly on irrelevant topics rather than keeping everyone focus on the goals of the meeting.

Avoid making decisions during the meeting

A good meeting is about collecting information, weighing options and coming up with a solution. Running an unproductive meeting, you shouldn’t come up with a concrete decision and let your team assume what the next action plan is. You can always follow up on it at the next meeting.

Conclusion

I don’t have problems with meetings, but those unproductive ones that are wasting my time. Meetings are essential to make everybody on the same page, working towards the same goal. But it’s worth nothing unless everyone started getting things done.


This article was published on Medium.com.

Why Your WordPress Sites Get Hacked

Why Your WordPress Sites Get Hacked

It’s all fun and games until you noticed something is wrong with your website. The symptoms could be one of the following:

  • You got: “This site can’t be reached” message when entering your URL
  • Random pop-ups appear on random pages while you are navigating your site.
  • Random files and folders suddenly appear in your web folder
  • Random new users account has been created
  • Your WordPress Admin account has been removed
  • Unidentified files have been installed in your FTP that you do not know
  • When you Google your site, the result says: “The site may be hacked”

There could be other signs your WordPress site have been hacked, but those are the most common one.

Reasons why you have been hacked

While it could be done by someone who has the access to your WordPress backend or your hosting control panel (like a disgruntle ex-developer), there are other reasons why your website is vulnerable to attack.

  • You have a weak & easy to guess password
  • Your plugins and theme files are outdated
  • You are using nulled plugins and themes
  • You never set up security solutions on your WordPress installation

What should I do if I’m hacked?

If your hosting provides scheduled backup, you can contact them to revert to the last working version of your website. If you don’t have backups, you may find a web design company who can retrieve back your website. This will be done manually and technically challenging depending on the size of your website.

Here are my 5 rituals in ensuring a secured website:

1) Strong username and password

What passwords and condoms have in common

You don’t reuse it
You don’t share it with others
You don’t use the same one as the others
If you’re in doubt, change it

Stop using ‘admin’ as your admin username, silly. Find a suitable username that’s not so common and probably unrelated to you in a sense that anyone could guess from looking at your Instagram or Twitter handles. Your username shouldn’t have anything to do with your personal information.

Same goes with your password. Use uppercase, lowercase letters and various characters to strengthen your password. I also recommend that you regularly change your password, especially if you had shared your password with some freelancers or anyone you hired to make the changes before.

2) Updates
If your site has a lot of outdated plugins, there could be security holes where hackers can break into your system. Therefore, it is important that you keep your plugins and WordPress updated. Updated plugins improve the load time too. Keep auditing your plugin list and remove any redundant plugins.

3) Hosting
I recommend using Siteground as a hosting and I have used them for our clients for many years. They have daily backup and 99.99% uptime on their servers. Prices are very reasonable and their control panel is user-friendly and easy to use. Their support is effective and competent. Based on my experience, in some cases, they will help in restoring your site if it got hacked.

4) Install WordFence
Wordfence is one of the most downloaded security plugins for WordPress. It has a number of smart features to protect your website from common hackers attack. Wordfence is easy to use, so you do not have to be a rocket scientist to use it. Installing Wordfence will significantly increase your website security.

Some of the features that I like include:

  • Perform a virus scan of your entire site and get a report.
  • Block IP addresses and countries from accessing your website
  • You receive an email every time a user logs in to your website. Here you can see the user IP, user hostname, and user location and their username.
  • Built-in firewall to protect your site from unwanted traffic.

5) Backups
I could not emphasise this one hard enough. You might purchase the best theme and plugins, hire the best web developers and use the best hosting solutions – but if you don’t schedule backups for your site, all your investments will go down the drain, once your site has been hacked.

There are lots of backup solutions out there, but I really like UpdraftPlus because it’s simple and just work in most case.

All of these rituals are not very technical because I want everyone to be able to understand and perform the security check yourself. However, there are some advance solutions that you can perform. Eg. You can limit write permissions to files and folders so you do not get the wrong people in and overwrite your files.

Remember to keep your plugins and theme updated. Outdated files may have security holes, making your site vulnerable to attack.

What I Shared about Self Promotion at WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017

What I Shared about Self Promotion at WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017

I was invited to be one of the panelist, discussing about Running a WordPress Development Agency at the WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017, last November.

Here are some points that I’d like to summarize from that discussion that could be useful, if you’re running a small web agency:

  1. Spend Time Perfecting Your Skills. Many people will have a product or talent, but will receive little to no recognition because it isn’t good enough. I suggest spending enough time developing a product, be it a website or invention, that you would buy it.
  2. Dont Be Humble. I have a problem with this; I hate “bragging” about myself. But if you think that you are worth it, go for it! When proposing a project to a client, tell them you’re better than the rest, then say why.
  3. Cover Different Mediums. Promoting yourself over several different mediums, like in social media, person-person communication, or the internet forums, will help clients recognize that you are in the market.
  4. Have GREAT Advertisements. A great advertisement is worth it; they are the deciding factor in whether a client wants to come to you. If you think that you’re worth paying for an advertisement, this is great; a well-done, professional advertisement makes you stand out from the crowd. Which brings me to tip #5.
  5. Stand Out. This is the most heard lesson today. By being unique, you are recognized more; by being recognized more, you are sought after more. Going back to Tip #2, tell your client why you’re different, and better.
  6. Sometimes, You Make More By Not Making Anything. This means free-work. Volunteering at a place before working there not only shows that your dedication, but also it gives you a chance to display your qualities. This can be translated into selling a product, to; demos and freebies are one of the most surefire ways to gain interest.
  7. Conquer Your Fears. I know at first, I was scared to self-promote. But then I would think of my bank balance, and see it with thousands of dollars more. It really helps!
  8. Be Assertive. When promoting your services, never stray from your self-assurance. I recommend before selling that you become so confident that any questions you’re asked come straight from knowledge. Know your services back and forth, like the back of your hand.
  9. Learn From Your Mistakes. I always like to ask, when I’m turned down, why I was turned down. That way, if they point out any specific fault, it gives you the chance to take that in and learn from it. If you really want to show maturity, tell them that if they tell you, it will give you the chance to improve. Then, leave your contact info, because they might look for you in the future.

There you have it! It was a great opportunity meeting wonderful people at the WordCamp, and I hope for another great one, next year!

How Many WordPress Plugins Do You Actually Need?

How Many WordPress Plugins Do You Actually Need?

I was just adding some plugins to a couple of my clients’ WordPress websites and noticed there are 99 pages of plugins under the popular category from the WordPress plugins section. Holy Moly, that is a lot of plugins!

Thank goodness for the popular tags directory and search by keyword box. Without those, some people could spend hours looking through all the plugins and not know what they were looking for.

The number of plugins is going to depend on what you want your website to do, and what you want out of your blog. There are people that have a list of 3, 5, 10, or more of the “must have plugins” for every website.

I don’t believe that is so. Every website is different, so the plugins you use on your website may not be on the must have plugins lists. Sure, there are the plugins for analytics, cache, SEO, forms, sitemap, and security to list a few that are useful and needed by all. However, if you are new to web development and have no clue which plugins you need it can be overwhelming.

I recommend if you are unsure, review the first few pages on the popular plugins page to get a feel of what plugins are available. Click the install on the side and read the description, how to install, view the screenshot options if available, check the FAQ’s, and additional notes, to see if the plugin is right for your blog. The information will also tell you if the plugin has been tested in the newest version of WordPress, how many times the plugin has been downloaded, and the last update of the plugin. Be careful, an outdated plugin can cause you more problems than good on your website.

I really pay attention to the number of downloads and last updates of the plugins. Now, is this the way for everyone? Not necessarily, but I use that as an indicator of the value of the plugin. Now on the other hand, some might say just because a plugin has not been downloaded numerous times does not mean it lacks value. I totally agree with that, but I just stated what I look for. It really all depends on what you need or would like your website to do.

Plugins are great tools to use to enhance your WordPress website for you and your visitor’s experience. As your plugins have a purpose for your website.

What to do When Freelance’s Work Dries Up?

What to do When Freelance’s Work Dries Up?

Freelance work always comes in waves. You’ll be the talk of the town one week, and then there will be nothing but silence in your inbox the next. Freelance dry spells are almost inevitable. So what is there to do during the down time?

Keep a Schedule
Even without regular work, you should be keeping to a regular schedule. Wake up at the same time every morning, get ready for work, then get settled in front of your desk.

Even if there is nothing for you to do at a normal, 9-5, you’ll still be expected to show up, at least for a bit. This will give you time to seek out work, touch up your portfolio and resume, and still leave you with a potential free afternoon binge watching on Youtube.

Stay Connected
Have some other friends that you know in the business? If you are a freelance writer, and have met a few other freelance writers, then why not get in contact with them? They might have a few ideas for your dry spell, a little extra work to throw your way (since you have nothing better to do), or might even be able to throw you a bone.

Get in touch with old clients that you haven’t heard from in a while and offer them a 10% discount. You never know what kind of business you can drum up just by keeping in touch.

Straighten Up
When you’re super busy, your desk probably reflects it. If your desk is loaded down with papers, books, pens and other nonsense, it may be time for some cleaning. Make sure to file away important documents, straighten up the bookshelves, and don’t forget to dust!

Play with your Portfolio
How long has it been since you read over your website, your blog, your social media site, or your portfolio? If it has been a while, you may want to just make sure all of your information is completely up to date. Old dates and obviously outdated information will make you look less professional and might scare off a few clients.

Learn Stuff
There are so many places to take short, informational courses; you never know what you might learn. There are Photoshop courses in Udemy, SEO classes at Skillshare, and even writing courses on Youtube. And all of these are very cheap or free. You’ll never be short of something to do by learning new things!

Look After Your Business
Are you charging enough? Is your blog professional enough? Should you change your Facebook page to reflect the new niches you’re hoping to start leaning towards? A free few hours can help you to evaluate your business model, and see if your plan could use a few tweaks. Ask your colleagues or professional friends what they think of what you are doing. You never know where great advice can come from.

You also need to consider if you have a contract in place that you use with your clients. If you have been burnt in the past from a client not paying you or asking too much, then you should consider updating your contract so you can use it for all your clients over and over again.

Add to Your Portfolio
Even a spare hour you have is a spare hour you could spend on expanding your portfolio. Don’t waste it!

Take Some Time Off
Maybe you’ve been working too hard. Perhaps you can look for more work tomorrow? Take the day and go out. Go to the movie, bowling or just take a stroll. When was the last time you playing Daytona USA? Or perhaps you can volunteer. Maybe take a fitness class at the gym you have never taken.

There is a whole world out there, and you can tackle your work problems tomorrow.