Did PHP 8 break your website?

PHP 8 broke my site

Xneelo Best Hosting

and is current with software upgrades

Our approach at The First Step when dealing with a PHP update on your server, is to put your site into maintenance mode. Head over to your Xneelo Konsoleh control panel and login to your account. Take a moment with the following steps to see if PHP version 8 breaks your site…read on…

Do it yourself for free, here’s how

A few easy steps


Want to troubleshoot this yourself? For Free? Here’s how….

Ready? You can do it!

Login to Konsoleh here > Manage Services > PHP Config and review your php settings.

On a shared hosting server max out your settings

Upgrade to PHP 8.0

Set ‘Display Errors’ to on

Dispay PHP errors

Save your settings. Visit your website. What do you see?

Your website is broken

All you see is lines of code at the top of your screen.

Don’t panic! Read between the lines. You will see pointers to plugins or theme that will give you an idea of what is causing the conflict with the new php update.


There is an error message and you are locked out of your site!

Don’t panic! You got this. Here is what you do. You log onto your ftp server. This article does not cover ftp servers, but we will explain how to find your ftp server settings in your Xneelo Konsoleh dashboard:

To find your ftp server settings Login to Konsoleh here > Manage Services > FTP Users. You will see your FTP username but no visible password.

Resetting ftp password xneelo

Simply click ‘Reset Password’, copy the autogenerated password, and save

options. You will then open your ftp client and connect to your website using your domain name, ftp user and ftp password. Nothing will break if you reset the password. If you are using your ftp password to log into Konsoleh then you will need to use the newly generate one for the next login.

Whew! that was a lot of info… What now? I’m on my FTP server.


On your FTP server, navigate to public_html > wp-content > plugins. Rename the plugins folder to plugins1.

Clear your browser cache , visit your site, reload the page, and voila! 9 times out of 10 your site will be back online. Now you know for sure it is a plugin conflict. But which plugin. Well…you can use the same method for the plugins folder on the individual plugins. Rename the plugins1 folder to plugins again. Then one by one rename each plugin, check if the site goes back online. If not, revert to the plugin name, try the next plugin, adding a 1 at the end of the plugin folder name. This is an arduos method but if you have not managed to figure out the errors or you are completely locked out of the site, this should regain you access.


I can do this I’ll carry on reading…

Inbetween the lines of code that the errors display you will see file directories. You are looking at plugins, themes or WordPress errors.

Step 1. Ensure all your plugins, themes and WordPress versions are up to date.

Step 2. Disable the offending plugin / Switch to a default WordPress theme  and reload your website page. If the error goes away you know that the culprit is either the plugin or the theme. If it is a plugin you rely heavily on for your site, you will need to start searching for a new one that has kept up to date with the PHP updates and set this up to replace the offending plugin.

If your theme has broken your site, you will need to contact the theme developers and take things from there.

If you are not using the plugin that broke your site, delete it and have a nice day!

My site is fixed

I did it all by myself

Remember, once you have resolved the issues you need to return to the xneelo dashboard and switch off ‘Display Errors’ under your php settings and save.

Set PHP display errors to off

Well done you did it…

All by yourself!

Brought to you by our

QUICK TIPS ~ Wise Reminders

Follow us

Link to the official Covid-19 Government Portal from your .za domain

Covid-19 website banner south africa

South African websites require Covid-19 Website Banner

For all .co.za domains

The South African government has asked all website owners to please link to the official Covid-19 resource portal somewhere clearly visible on your home page.

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal
Download the Covid-19 Gazette


Do it yourself for free, here’s how

3 Free Plugins


Easy Steps to install


Want to install this yourself? For Free? Here’s how….

Ready? You can do it!

Open your WordPress dashboard, navigate to > Plugins > Add New > and enter the search term:

south african covid-19 banner

into the search field to the right of the plugins install page. You will be provided with a few plugins to choose from. Here’s what I found:

Free Plugin Option 1:

South African COVID19 Banner

By Bridgement

Click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’ the plugin. Reload your page and you will see the ‘Covid Banner’ option now in the WordPress dashboard menu below > Settings.
Use the settings to configure the background color and font color. The plugin shows a neat popup at the bottom right of your screen which you can click to close which works well on mobile as it gives you more screen space once closed. It also has a link the the government portal.

Free Plugin Option 2:

South African Covid-19 Banner

Click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’ the plugin. Reload your page and you will see the ‘SA Covid-19’ option now in the WordPress dashboard menu below > Dashboard menu link.
Use the settings here to configure where you want the banner to show on your page and whether it should stay fixed to the top or bottom of the screen or scroll away with the content. I would select one of the options with scroll so this doesn’t interfere with your mobile view. The plugin shows a banner across your screen in the style you selected under settings. It also has a little more info including the Covid-19 hotline and whatsapp emergency contact details. It also has a link the the government portal. 

Free Plugin Option 3:

SA Coronavirus Banner

Click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’ the plugin. Reload your page and you will see the ‘SA Covid-19’ option now in the WordPress dashboard menu below > Dashboard menu link.
Use the settings here to configure where you want the banner to show on your page and whether it should stay fixed to the top or bottom of the screen or scroll away with the content. I would select one of the options with scroll so this doesn’t interfere with your mobile view. The plugin shows a banner across your screen in the style you selected under settings. You can also select/deselect the banner elements such as

You are also able to style the font colors. Definitely choose one of the scroll options. It is quite a wide banner so you don’t want it fixed over your mobile or desktop content.

Brought to you by our

QUICK TIPS ~ Wise Reminders

Thanks to Robin Devit, Seagyn Davis and Bridgement Devs for these free resources!

Follow us

Free One Page Scrolling WordPress Website

Free WordPress Website

One Page Scrolling Layout for Divi

Full Terms and Conditions of the Offer

Offer this July 2019

Unique offer

Use these Winter Months to take The First Step

Launch your new or existing business with a brand new WordPress Website

The First Step is excited to offer a free one page scrolling WordPress Website. If you are just beginning on your journey or you already have a website, this is a fantastic and affordable offer to get you started.

What is included in the Free Offer

Our free offer is simple. The First Step will build you a FREE! fully functional high-end one page scrolling WordPress website. This means a fully feature-rich website with Full WordPress Security, ingration with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. Your site will be linked to all your social media platforms. Choose your own unique free layout from our top selection of Divi layouts.  Our free offer includes customizing your layout with your business logo, images and content. We will customize the layout with your colors and choose from a selection of Google fonts. Please note that a layout is NOT a template. The layouts are Divi layouts and you will be required to purchase the Divi Template. Please see below for all other costs involved.

What other costs are involved?

1. Sign up for a year of hosting with The First Step @ R120 per month. We use Hetzner as our preferred hosting company.

2. Purchase the worlds leading WordPress template through our Divi affiliate link. (The First Step receives an affiliate commission for every Divi Template purchased through our affiliate links on this page or elsewhere on our website. We are proud of our affilliation with Elegant Themes. If you wish to know more about this please feel free to read our article on our affiliation with Elegant Themes 🙂

What is not included in the offer

Additional Website features or functionality
Ecommerce Websites
Additional pages over and above the Home Page Scrolling Website
Email setup and trouble shooting
WordPress training
Anything not outlined in the offer
Graphic Design
Website Hosting
Domain Hosting
Divi Template

About this Offer

This offer is valid for orders during July 2019! You will be able to choose from a large variety of layouts to find the perfect look for your business. The first step will customize your layout for you with your logo, images and content. You will have the very best of WordPress security plugins and integration with Google analytics. This offer does not apply to e-commerce websites. Terms and Conditions Apply.

Multi Language WordPress Website

Multi Language

Recommended Plugin

Multi Language Plugin that works with Divi

This plugin has a free version


Polylang Multi Language Plugin Configurations

What this article is really about is to help you get through that glitch that I have seen mentioned in several support forums. I was nearly ready to give up on the Polylang free plugin and just buy something because I couldn’t work out why my home page had disappeared and returned instead a 404 not found error.

There is already a very good article written by Divitheme with all the steps to getting the plugin working but I just wanted to add the step that wasn’t apparent to me. First off take a look at their tutorial. I would like to reiterate their steps are so nicely out-lined in the article by Divitheme so I am in no way trying duplicate their content, just add a little bit extra which helped me along the way.

So here goes.

Install the Polylang WordPress Plugin from the WordPress repository. Activate the plugin. Then go to the plugin settings via Dashboard > Languages > Languages and choose a language from the drop-down menu. Choosing a language will automatically populate the fields below this. Select the order of the languages setting your Default language to 0. Click ‘Add new  language’ . The language will appear on the right hand side in a list with all your languages. In the example below I chose English and German. Polylang-Language-Settings

You can also click the star icon on and off to set a language to the default language. In my case and the example above I only needed 2 languages. Install the Duplicate Post Plugin and activate it. When you head over to your posts or pages, hover over the list of posts or pages in your dashboard and you will see a new option next to ‘Edit | | Trash | View | Clone | New Draft’. Choose a page you want to translate. In my case it was the home page for my one page website. I clicked ‘clone’ and had an exact copy of my home page ready for translation. Here is the important step. Go into your primary language, in my case the English home page. On the right hand side you will see the language options. Under language I have selected English.

Link your default home page with your other language home pages

Now to link the 2 pages English and German I need to select the German page to link to from inside the Default home page language in my dashboard. So go to your default language home page dashboard. Once in put your cursor in the field below ‘Translations’. It will automatically show options of other pages on the site that are in another language. Select the desired page and language. Save your settings. You will see now that your page url has changed. For example the new url will be mydomain.com/en/home with the English translation code as part of the url. See screenshot below:


If you visit the page you just linked to you will see it is also linked and the url has incorporated the additional language code.

Hide the language code from your urls

If you do not want the url’s to show your language code you can hide this under the Settings > Languages > Settings > URL modifications. In the screenshot below I have configured the settings to show the language code in the url: Polylan-url-modifications

If you get the following Polyang Plugin Errors:

The chosen static front page must be translated in all languages

You will not be able to set the default home page until you have created at least 1 additional language for your home page and configured the settings above. Namely, go into your default language home page and choose the additional language to link it to. See explanation above.

Multi Language Menu

You will now navigate to Dashboard > Appearance > Menus and begin creating your multi language menu. First Create new menu, let’s say the English Menu. Add all the English language pages to it. Also add the new item created by the Polylang plugin called ‘Language switcher ‘.


Set the menu as your primary English Menu.

Create another additional language menu. Add the additional language pages to this menu. Set it as the default main menu for the additional language. Remember, you can only do this once you have created your additional language pages shown in the steps above.

Here is what the menu section would look like:






Thanks to the Divitheme Article for getting me here.

Thanks to Gordon Johnson from Pixabay for the lovely image

Follow us

Elegant Themes Affiliation

Our Affiliation

Get the Template


Has Joined the Elegant Themes Affiliate Program

We have been using the Elegant Themes Divi template and their range of plugins for over 3 years now. Finding the Divi WordPress Theme has been like finding a gold mine. It is rich in features and is constantly breaking new bariers in web technology. It is hard to keep up with all the changes which is a clear indication of the dedication of the Elegant Themes team to their one masterpiece, Divi. We have joinged their affiliate program and as of April 2019 we will receive an affiliate commission for every sale generated through our affiliate links.

Divi Template Features

Dynamic drag-and-drop visual builder. This template has fantastic animations for every module. Every module can be custom styled and saved to a library for use in the site. Create a custom layout for your blog pages, save this to the library and import on any new post.

Built with Divi

Elegant Themes has become the leading edge in Template Development and have packed all their features into just one template, Divi. It is so versatile that no 2 websites will ever look alike.

Divi Layouts

There are so many Development companies creating features to extend the Divi template. Template layouts are available all over the web free and premium. This makes styling your Divi Template a breeze.


We receive an affiliate commission for every Divi Template purchased through our affiliate links on this page or elsewhere on our website. We are proud of our affilliation with Elegant Themes.

Follow us

Website Intro Videos

Entertain and Gain

Website Intro Video

We Make Content Movies

To Engage your Audience

Short 30 Second, 60 Second or 90 Second Video Clips

Pitch your vision Fast and Effectively on your Website Home Page!

Give your Content Life and Motion

Make your Video

We make short, consise and punchy video clips. Tell your audience in a visually engaging way who you are and what you do!

Follow The First Step

Faster Faster Fastest WordPress Websites

About how to make your WordPress Website faster

This article is not presuming to shed any new light on content that is already widely written about and hopefully is common knowledge to most online businesses. However it is always good for one’s own SEO to keep topical, so in this light and to share with The First Step clients I would like to point you all in the direction of testing your website so that you you are informed about whether or not you need to take action.

This being said, you may not know what to do once you have tested the speed of your website but at least you will be armed with the knowledge that you need a faster website, MUCH faster.

There are a few free and excellent tools for testing your website speed.

Listed below a few popular resources.

Run your Website through a speed test tool

Just to see how fast or in most cases how slow it is…

Copy your domain’s url from the address bar of your browser and paste it into the field of the tool of your choice. It is wise to test your site on at least 3 different tools as they all offer different insights and test for different metrix.

To the complete layperson this may seem like another technical advancement that you just can’t deal with but the reality is that you must! Treat your online business like it were a shop and make it expedient for customers to visit, get the information they need, and bring you business.

Having a slow website is like having your shop assistant on a lunch break when your sale starts, leaving the ‘Closed for Lunch, back in 1 Hour’ sign up on the door.

This is equally as counter-productive as having a slow website. Your customers can’t open the pages they want to view in the short window of time they have made available in their busy lives, to get the information or purchase the item they have gone online to source.

If you have found your website to be underper-forming, whether or not you understand the metrix it will be enough for you to glean that there is a problem when you see red warnings and optimization tips and low page scores for you to get the help you need.

Google will rank your site higher for it’s speed than an equally SEO optimized site that is slow to load. So no-longer can you just focus on your content optimization. Now it’s vital to have a fast website.

For services in website speed optimization feel free to inquire at The First Step.


Happy 15th Birthday WordPress

Cape Town Celebrates as WordPress turns 15

I set out on this Wintery Thursday to join the WordPress Cape Town Team and other WordPress enthusiasts to celebrate as WordPress turns 15. On the drive out to the Red and Yellow venue I was a little nervous. I didn’t know a soul there and wasn’t sure how I was just going to mingle and look like I belonged, when in fact, I knew no-one.

But that is what is amazing about WordPress. You still know deep down, or right up on the surface, that you are a part of something bigger than yourself, much bigger, the world around, and that whether or not you know anybody you still belong.

So in I walked in and found a lovely atmosphere with everyone chatting around a delicious snack table and a fabulous WordPress birthday cake waiting to be cut.


But I knew noone and everyone was chatting in small groups.

I felt nervous.

And then I just decided I was going to introduce myself and say I didn’t know a soul. (I could always just leave and no-one would notice!) The minute I did this I found plenty of other people who were also there alone and were welcoming and happy to chat with me.

That is why people around the world get together, even when they may not know anyone, because one thing we all know is that we are part of this great WordPress community.

Thanks #WP15 and #wpcapetown and all the sponsors.

Loved the cake.

GDPR Compliance Services – everyone’s writing about it

GDPR Compliance after it has been unpacked

I have sourced a lot of information out there and have put together my own version of all of it, and will expand on this as I learn more, but in the mean time I have also referenced some very useful articles that clearly explained the compliance to me.

You may be wondering how on earth you can become GDPR compliant or does it really even matter. The more you research the more you will find it is in your own interests to get onboard this ship.

New European Laws that Affect your Website coming into effect 25th May 2018 – a very important read

These new European laws come into effect on 25th of May. The new GDPR compliance laws (General Data Protection Regulation) relate to your privacy policy and affect any website that stores data and information of any European citizen whether or not you reside outside the EU. This is a complicated new law which affects most businesses online. I have sourced many articles but here are some of the clearest and simplest to understand.

GDPR Explainer
General Data Protection Regulation
How to Manage Optin Emails and Signups

GDPR Compliance South Africa

The Good News (No more spam! No more Fake Marketing! Social Media Platforms can nolonger store your data without explicit consent!)

It is unclear how these new laws will be policed but one sure thing is that the aim is to protect people from corporations stealing your information and using it to spam you. But down to the lowest level everyone must comply. You no-longer have permission to market to your clients without their consent or collect their data, even through Google Analytics, without informing them.

The First Steps to Compliance

1. Create/Update your privacy Policy
Update or create a privacy policy on your website which clearly communicates what information you store about your clients. Most sites quietly collect anonymous data through google analytics. If you have an email optin you are collecting data and storing it. Most importantly if you have an e-commerce store you are collecting data but using a 3rd party payment gateway to collect and store credit card details. Any user that signs up to your website is giving you their data. (The third party payment gateways will have their own privacy policy and compliance in place).

2. Terms of Service
There are many useful sites that assist with creating a terms of service in compliance with DGPR. Create a custom link on the home page of your site and clearly state your terms.

3. Re-Permissioning your subscribers
If you are sending out a news letter be sure that every subscriber has granted permission and subscribed through a proper 3rd part service. If you are mailing subscribers who have opted out you are in breach. You need to get your subscriber permission AGAIN for storing their data, sending them information, marketing to them and so much more!

4. Convert your site to SSL
This is a key factor in compliance ESPECIALLY if you have an online shop. All clients of The First Step have access to an SSL certificate through Hetzner but the WordPress platform will require some additional plugins and tweaks to configure this as will as updates of your sitemaps and urls with Google analytics and Google Search Console. This means your website address will have a GREEN PADLOCK next to the address bar and your protocol will be https not http. This secures the pages served on your website and stops 3rd part information from being stolen which in turn further protects the privacy of your clients and users.

The First Step is offering several services to assist you with this transition. This in no way covers every aspect and I am still working to understand all the steps required to be fully compliant.

In most cases the law advises on assigning a compliance officer, however I would imagine that is costly and not necessary for a small business.

Please note that the basics of compliance are covered in this information. If you feel your site is served to European citizens (even those living in your country. Any EU citizens) then please take this seriously and do further home work on the subject of GDPR compliance. (In most cases European citizens are everywhere and google is collecting your website traffic data which in turn means you need to comply.)

The First Step will assist in several steps the most important of which are outlined below.

How do I make my website GDPR Compliant?

The First Step offers a number of key services to facilitate this transition.

Please fill out this GDPR Request Services form and request which services you require:

Fixing the Hetzner Hack

A lot of password resetting

HetznerIf you run a WordPress website and host it on Hetzner you will have heard about their Konsoleh client portal being compromised by a Hack into their SQL database…Although noone seems entirely clear as to how this security breach can affect us, it would be wise to follow their instructions and reset your ftp passwords and your database passwords.

The ftp password is quite simple to update, but if you are running a WordPress website you will need to update the database password as well. Log into Konsoleh, navigate to > Manage Services > Databases > Manage MySQL. Select the database to edit and in the password field enter the new password. Its advisable to use a strong password generator . Keeping this password on hand log onto your ftp server and download the file usually found in public_html called wp-config.php . (Otherwise it is found in the core files of your wordpress folder)

In this file you will need to change the database password found in the following string of the file  (‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_changed_here’) to the password you have just updated in Konsoleh.

It’s fairly simple, save the file and re-upload it to the server where you fetched it from. Check your site, if you encounter an error such as ‘DATABASE ERROR ESTABLISHING CONNECTION’ this simply means the passwords were not set correctly or there was some error in copy pasting to the file you updated.

During the course of today whilst updating the passwords on all my clients sites this error occurred a few times. Although I was extremely careful, sometimes it just required that I deleted the old wp-config.php file and uploaded the new one, or in other instances just reset the password on the server.

I would like to emphasize that I have every confidence in Hetzner and this security breach has only benefited them in becoming even more secure.

If anyone requires my assistance, as this is a long and tedious process if you have many sites hosted on the Hetzner Server, don’t hesitate to call The First Step.

Good Luck!