WordPress Not Sending Emails? Let’s Setup Mandrill!

Announcement!

Mandrill is no longer offered as a standalone service, so it is best to avoid this tutorial. A better alternative to Mandrill is SendGrid or SendinBlue. Also, here is a great post about the other alternatives.

We have seen many WordPress sites having a problem not sending email notifications for things like form notifications as well as WooCommerce alerts. In fact, one of our most popular posts centered around the topic of Gravity Forms not sending an email notification. Today we will go through the process of setting up Mandrill, which is a service built by the same people at MailChimp, that powers your website’s email delivery. Instead of using your server to send email from your site (which is unreliable), Mandrill has a strong infrastructure that reliably delivers your notifications and alerts.

The first step is to create a new account at Mandrill. Accounts are free up to 2,000 emails, which should last you a long time unless you have a huge number of form submissions or orders coming in. If you do have a higher volume, it would make sense to upgrade to their paid plan to ensure you are receiving notifications.

WordPress Not Sending Emails Signup

After signing up, you will want to get an API key that you will later use to setup Mandrill on your WordPress site. Click “Get API Keys” at the bottom right corner of the first page after signing up.

WordPress Not Sending Emails - Create API

Then click “+ Add API Key”

WordPress Not Sending Emails - Click Here

Now you have your API key that will be needed in a few steps. Keep this window open so you can copy your API key later.

SMTP_and_API_Credentials___Mandrill

Let’s go back to your WordPress site and install the official Mandrill plugin. Once logged into your site, click “Plugins”, then “Add New”. Search for “Mandrill”.

search-mandrill

Be sure to choose the official plugin that looks like this:

Add_Plugins_‹_Sunshine_Pool_and_Spa_—_WordPress

After clicking “Install Now”, go ahead and activate the plugin.

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After activating the plugin, click “Settings” to set your site up with the API key you got in the first half of this tutorial.

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Go ahead and enter your API key in space provided and click Save Changes.

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You should get an error message telling you that you haven’t set everything up. Go ahead and fill out the “Sender Settings”. You can leave the “Reply-To Email” blank as with the rest of the fields on this screen. Go ahead and click Save and then we will test things out!

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After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, you will see the following test box. Enter your email and subject with a test message. Then click “Send Test”.

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You should receive an email almost immediately to confirm the test went through. You will also see the following message at the top of the settings screen.

Mandrill_Settings_‹_Sunshine_Pool_and_Spa_—_WordPress 4

That’s it! This is a pretty straightforward way to ensure your email are going to come through when someone submits a form, buys a product or makes a comment on your site. Instead of relying on your server to deliver email (which often fails), you can have more peace of mind knowing the same system that powers MailChimp is also powering your site.

Let us know if you have any questions!

3 Simple Steps to Improve the Design of Your Site

The overall appearance of your site can make the difference between someone wanting to do business or leaving your site. If your site is too cluttered and uses colors that cause a migraine, you need to fix your design.

How to Fix It (in order of importance):

 

  1. Give Enough Whitespace.






    The biggest mistake businesses make with their design is filling their page with too much information, too close together. Give your content room to breath – it will make your site feel more user friendly and more modern. Want to read more about how whitespace affects your site? Read this.

  2. Use the Right Colors

    colors
    Use colors that don’t take away from your content. Website backgrounds and content areas should only use subtle, light colors. Don’t choose a bright pink as your background, instead make it a softer, pastel color that is less “in your face”. It is ok to use bold, bright colors for call-to-actions (buttons) and other small elements on your page. Have a subtle background color will make those buttons stand out even more. To find the right colors for your site, we always use this tool.

  3. Use the Right Fonts

    fonts
    The fonts on your site (and their font size) can make a break a good design. We recommend keeping fonts at 15px or higher, any smaller makes things hard to read. Use clean fonts: Our favorite is Open Sans by Google Fonts. The “Golden Ratio” can also make your site easier to read and therefore increase visitor time on your site. The Golden Ratio is the ratio between font size, the width of the page and the line height. Use this tool to determine the right ratio for your site.

Fix your sites colors and fonts, then add whitespace: the perfect recipe for a beautiful, user-friendly site.

Website Speed: How To Fix Your Slow Loading Site

How long do you wait for a site to load before you leave? I bet not very long. Here is a great infographic on how site speed can impact your bottom line. You know it is important to have a fast loading website, but what are some actual steps you can take to improve your loading time on a WordPress site? Your site speed can easily be improved by making the following steps.

In order of importance:

 

  1. Caching

    cachingUse a plugin that reduces the amount of data your site loads each time (a caching plugin). The two best are WP Super Cache and WP Total Cache. I recommend using Super Cache as it is a bit easier to setup and does not seem to have as many issues with incompatibilities.  To setup WP Super Cache, go to the advanced settings and select all options that end with: (recommended)

  2. Images Too Large

    Occupy Wall Street-Inspired Protests In GermanyWhen you see a website that has a large image that crawls open, it is becuase they uploaded a file way too large for web (most likely straight from the camera). Any large images need to be saved in a web friendly file size. Either use Photoshop or Pixlr.com to save your images at a smaller size. Click “File” > “Save for Web (or just “Save” in Pixlr)” > Select “JPG” > Then reduce quality until you see visible degradation of the image, then back it off slightly. You do not want any image on your website that is over 1000px wide. More than that and you are asking for a long load time.

  3. No Raw Camera Files

    cameraNever upload images straight from your camera to your website, they are way too big! Go back to step 2 above and reduce your file size.

  4. Minify your CSS and Javascript

    minify Minify What!? All you need to know is that this reduces the file size of your crucial site files. Use the plugin: Better WP Minify. One word of caution: this plugin is not compatible with all themes, so make sure it does not break your site styles when activating!

Site is still too slow? You may have an issue with your host or other bad hosting, so make sure you are using a modern host for your website. Use the tool here to test your site speed and get other recommendations on what is slowing down your site.

Turn Off WordPress Auto Update

no-autoThis week we saw WordPress roll out version 4.0.1, which was a incremental security update. Normally, these incremental updates do not cause much harm, but today was different. We saw numerous plugins and themes that broke because of the update.

If you want to turn off WordPress core auto updates so you have more control over how and when your site is updated, follow the steps below:

1. Open your wp-config.php file

You will find this in your hosting file manager or by FTP. It is in your root folder, where WordPress core files live.

2. Add this line of code:

/** Disables all core updates: */
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

to your wp-config.php file after this line:

/** The Database Collate type. Don't change this if in doubt. */
define('DB_COLLATE', '');

3. Save your wp-config.php file.

No you won’t have to worry about an auto update breaking your site.