New easy way to make thumbnails for PDFs

Back in January of 2012 we posted one of our most popular tutorials- how to make a JPG preview of a PDF document uploaded to your WordPress site.

It was a multi-step process. It was a pain.

thumbnail of Adobe_Trademark_Guidelines_11012014

Adobe Trademark Guidelines PDF 2014, click to download.

There were plenty of reasons to upload a PDF- but, all WordPress would provide was a link. People want to see what they are clicking on to download.

There are many reasons why you would want to do this. First and foremost, uploading PDFs using the basic WordPress uploader just provides a link to the document- without a way for your user to see what the PDF looks like.

The reason you are using PDF’s instead of a JPG is because PDFs, if created properly, are search engine friendly and handicap accessible. To make a PDF properly, it’s not made from a scan- it’s made from an document-so that you can highlight and copy text from the PDF. If you are making a PDF from a scan, make sure you use the “recognize text” function to perform Optical Character Recognition on your scan. It won’t be perfect, but it will be close.JPG’s are not search engine friendly, whereas PDFs are.

Source: Websitetology – How To Make Thumbnails for PDFs

Since WordPress 4.7 or so, the media library will show a preview of a pdf you upload, but it still only places a link.

Lucky for us,

Just download, install and activate PDF Image Generator from the WordPress Plugin Repository and bam! Instant previews of every new PDF you upload. One thing, even though the library interface gives you the ability to specify justification, it doesn’t work. After the PDF image is in your editor window- click on the image and get the edit option- and pick your preference. The above Guidelines is right justified.

Note, your server must have ImageMagick and GhostScript installed or it won’t work (ask your hosting company- or host with us- www.nextwavehosting.net).

We’ve found this plugin to be invaluable, especially handy for manufacturers, news sites or government organizations that need to post a lot of PDF documents to share.

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Is My Site Mobile-Friendly? What can I do to make it?

Google pays its respects to Websitetology 2015.

Google pays its respects to Websitetology 2015.

In one of our most recent email newsletters, we pointed readers to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test so that people could check to make sure their sites weren’t being penalized. This link was far and away the hottest item in the email, with over 400% more clicks than any other link in the newsletter.

In spite of Google’s attempts at emphasizing the importance of mobile-friendly design, and later on their tough-love warnings that your sites will be punished after April 21st, the message seems clear to us: people, businesses, and their websites are being left behind and many are unsure what to do to catch up.

Some may breathe a sigh of relief upon receiving a passing mark from the test, but what if you’re left with a big, fat F?

Over at our agency, The Next Wave, we commonly receive requests to “add responsiveness to our existing site.” We understand that this kind of request comes from a good place: folks who are looking for an inexpensive and painless way into the mobile-friendly realm by “adding on” the mobile functionality.

The problem is that this is actually pretty difficult, in some cases impossible, to achieve from a designer and developer’s perspective.

The Grid: Love it or Leave it.

The Grid: Love it or Leave it.

Mobile-friendly designers will typically start designing a website by how it looks like on mobile devices, then expanding and scaling the design outwardly from there. The idea is that everyone will be looking at essentially the same website, and there is no inferior way to browse.

Mobile-friendly developers mostly code websites as a giant grid to complement this aforementioned approach to design. For instance, each item on a typical WordPress site: posts, sliders, headlines, forms, and etc. are placed inside various squares of a grid. This makes it very easy to scale websites. As the screen becomes larger and smaller, you can shift the grid around so that everything still fits, but the code itself stays the same underneath.

Most developers who are giving an old site true responsiveness are essentially coding a new site from scratch but still wrapping it up in your design that looked good back in 2010. It makes more sense to just go back to the drawing board and start fresh.

By now I can feel your frustration coming through. You’re likely thinking, “This is all well-and-good, but I still can’t afford the time/money to invest in a brand new website right now.” You might even be thinking that there’s nothing wrong with your site as it is, except for Google’s stupid new rule.

If you’re a WordPress user, there are a few plugins out there that can take your pages, posts, etc. and wrap it in a separate mobile site. Notably WPTouch—with a couple free themes—and the mobile theme feature in Jetpack. Desktop users will still see your same-old site, and mobile users will be served up something different.

Keep in mind, however, that your mobile users will be looking at an inferior version of your site that might not work very well. Eventually, you’ll have to move on.

It’s not as intimidating as it seems, we promise. In fact, you could do it yourself over a long weekend. That’s what our seminar can show you.

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Always use a child theme- it’s easy!

Your WordPress installation is made up of several parts:

  • The WordPress software
  • A MySQL database
  • A Theme
  • Plugins

Each does different things. And when it comes to updating, and auto-updating, you want to make sure you don’t break things.

First tip- always backup your site before doing any updates, theme changes or plugin installs. We’ve fallen in love with the UpdraftPlus backup plugin. We consider it an essential plugin for every installation- and you don’t need to buy the premium version, the free one works fine.

So, now that you have your installation backed up, it’s time to make a child theme. What is a child theme? It’s a copy of a few key files from your theme that hold your customizations. This way, when you update a theme, you won’t lose any of your custom files.

Now, that’s not to say updating a theme will lose customizations- many themes come with theme options for customizations and these files won’t be touched in an update, however, best practices still say create a child theme. If you’ve mastered FTP and a file management tool, you could do this manually- but there are plugins that will do this for you faster and easier.

The one we’ve come to like is Child Theme Creator by Orbisius although it’s not always perfect. Some of the “premium themes” have additional files that are required- and even come with their own installable child themes. Carefully look at your themes installation notes to see if yours falls into one of these categories.

Once you’ve created your child theme- you activate it, and go about your merry way modifying your theme in any way you like.

The safety and security of being able to upgrade your parent theme, without losing customizations is now yours.

 

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