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 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!

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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 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

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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.


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!



WordPress Training in Cape Town

The First Step offers WordPress training to anyone wanting to have more control over their WordPress website, Blogsite, Ecommerce shop or website.

Training is provided on a 1 to 1 basis either over Skype or at our offices. You can decide on the length of your training. Ideally you will need your own computer, laptop, Ipad or even a phone but this is a little more tricky to acheive training. We are based in Hout Bay, Cape Town, but distance is no problem. Download Skype and we can assist you just as easily by sharing our screens with you as you learn the different areas of your WordPress dashboard and what each one can do.

WordPress has a very clear interface and with a little perserverence you will be mastering your own site in no time.

A few valuable resources will help get you on your way. These will be specified below.

Firstly you need to know how to login to your WordPress website.  In most instances unless you have changed the login url for security reasons, you can reach your dashboard by appending your domain name with /wp-admin


You will be prompted to enter your username and password.

You will need to enter your Website username and password to log in. Once logged in your dashboard can be momentarily overwhelming. Just focus on the menu on the left hand side of your dashboard. You are looking for Pages or Posts.

Click on either of these links and you will be able to edit an old page or post or start a new one.

Many people start their own WordPress site at . Here your website hosting is free and you have a variety of templates to choose from and limited functionality, but this is a great place to start familiarizing yourself with WordPress. Even so, it can become daunting and the once great intentions to build, master and host your own side and side step a web developer can be sidelined and all but forgotten.

Don’t lose hope. An hour or two of WordPress training at The First Step will get you back on your feed and running your own site, blog or online business like you are a pro! Don’t be daunted, take WordPress by the healm and master the most versatile publishing platform on the web.

Good luck from The First Step.


WordPress Hacked

How do I fix a hacked site? WordPress….

Did you recently receive an email from your service provider informing you that they have temporarily taken your site down due to security vulnerabilities and a hack?

This is quite a serious situation to be in. Not only is your website taken off-line, but the integrity of your business is compromised by hackers with malicious intent to use your site to farm traffic to their own often unethical websites.

This issue needs to be addressed immediately by someone with a good knowledge of recovering your website from a hack.

The First Step is experienced in fixing WordPress websites that have been hacked and compromised. A number of steps will be taken to clean up the bad content and in some instances this will require removing WordPress Plugins that are vulnerable to hacks and replacing them with new ones.

Once your website is back up we will add security plugins to keep hackers out and your content safe. Essentially you should have your website monitored and constantly updated to keep up with new security releases of your WordPress version and your WordPress plugins.

Having a secure WordPress Website is securing your online business.

Contact The First Step to secure your website against attackers.