Breaking Down The Urgency of Mixed Content Fixes

A2 Hosting’s latest e-newsletter contains an important article titled What Is Mixed Content & How To Fix It. It makes several points that every WordPress user should be aware of. You know how you get a warning screen now when you try to view a HTTP website? Well, it’s going to get worse. Starting this month the next releases of Chrome will block Mixed Content.

What is Mixed Content?

Mixed Content is defined as a browser (like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) loading both HTTP and HTTPS content. You may have a SSL certificate and a site that displays as HTTPS in a browser bar, so where does this HTTP come from? The simple answer is LINKS. If you’ve linked to pages within your own site that used to begin with HTTP or other websites that begin with HTTP.

Should I Care?

Yes. To restate the problem…. Even if your site is HTTPS, it it displays HTTP content (website links, even old YouTube links, etc.) the browsers may block pages on your site.

How Do I Know What To Fix?

Pinpointing HTTP links in your site is a reminder to do a periodic check for broken links. You’d be surprised where broken links come from! A great example is President Thomas Jefferson on the White House website. It’s a dead link (page that no longer exists). Jefferson hasn’t been purged, but each administration has the prerogative of changing websites and the current administration did that, Jefferson is still there but on a new page and in a new layer of page structure on the site.

How Do I Fix the HTTP?

There are several options as how to handle these dead links.

  1. If the page still exists, however the site is now HTTPS, simply add a “S” to the “HTTP”
  2. If the page no longer exists but you stil feel the information is of value, it can be located in the Wayback Machine and that link used.
  3. If there is no page and no archive in the Wayback Machine, you’ll want to remove the link.

Can Plugins Help?

The simplist method is to search Posts and Pages for “HTTP:” to see where it is used in links and text.

There are also two types of plugins for WordPress that are valuable. The first is the Broken Links Checker. It’s in use by at least 700,000 WordPress users. It shows broken links, gives you the opportunity to change links in the plugin dashboard, and can even provide a link to the Wayback Machine. If you don’t enjoy changing links one by one (even in a plugin dashboard) you can resort to a find and replace plug that will seek out HTTP: files and change them to HTTPS:. This method must be done with extreme caution and while it changes a large number of site links in one click it DOES NOT identify if broken links so you may solve your HTTP to HTTPS problem but not fix dead links.

I ♥ gif: Oxford University Press Picks gif as the word of the year!

It seems like we’re always hearing of a new “word of the year.” Remember back to 2009 when “unfriend” (like on Facebook) was announced by the Oxford American Dictionary as the word of the year? It seems that when a word morphs from a noun into a commonly used verb it catches the attention of academics who follow those kind of things.

This year’s word is interesting because it’s something known to designers and developers for years and now is gaining traction in mainstream culture. You probably already are familiar with JPG, a file format. GIF is also a file format. Photoshop users are probably also familiar with the ability to animate GIF files.  Not yet familiar? Then you may want to view the Nyan Cat, one of the most well-known GIF animations on the web.

As a web designer/developer I’ve been using GIF’s for years (example: millrivergroup.net). However, these little files are gaining more visibility and usage on the web because they aren’t FLASH.  Last year I wrote about the demise of FLASH (November 10, 2011: Is Flash Dead? The Significance for the Small Business Website). FLASH users beware because the tablet and smart phone revolution is here and they don’t use FLASH! When you want something to move on your website and you want it to be seen on phone and tablet… it’s time for a GIF.

So the move to talking about GIFs as nouns to speaking of GIFing may have caught the attention of the ivory tower intellectuals, but the GIF should be catching the imagination of those who work with the web as a relevant file format to add movement to websites to be seen on current technology.