Archive for October, 2022

WordPress and Elementor Customisations

October 25th, 2022 by Pavithra Kameswaran

Customising WordPress and Elementor Websites

What is Elementor?

Elementor is a page builder solution that can be installed within WordPress, to provide efficiencies with regard to the build of a WordPress Website.  The efficiencies are mainly with regard to implementing mobile responsiveness, and quickly implementing modern looking site elements.  Elementor continually provides new user interface elements which are relatively quick to add to websites.  For example, some of the more recent include:

  • Animated SVG logos and icons
  • Floating effects and blobs

latest elementor additions

What Options Exist for Customising Website Functionality when using WP with Elementor?

Many of the websites that we build for our clients require highly customised user interfaces.  These customisations are usually around more complex data that needs to be presented and potential interacted with by the website visitor.

At times, the standard features available within Elementor and Elementor Pro can be limited.  When this happens, we have a range of options to achieve the particular look and feel or functionality that is required.  Below I have described the various options:

1. Work with the controls available in particular widgets

There are myriad controls provided by Elementor, from simple elements such as Headings, through to complex widgets such as a carousel, or a web form.  Each widgets makes available for easy manipulation a certain set of features.  These loosely fall into 3 categories:  Content, Appearance, and Positioning.  Positioning includes settings around mobile responsiveness.

Ensuring that you choose the exact right element, or combination of elements on a particular page, is important for ensuring fast loading of each web page.

Even though there are probably of 100s of adjustments per element, there are times when we need to do still more.  That’s when we need to use one of the following alternate options.

In deciding which option is the best, it is vital to consider performance.  The temptation with WordPress and with Elementor is simply to purchase another plugin to achieve your goal.  There are plenty of plugins to choose from, and you can even purchase bundles of plugins that give you lots of potential.

However, with every additional plugin there is overhead:

  • Each plugin adds more code to the website, thus reducing load speed and performance of the page.  Poor load speed = poor SEO, which will negatively impact on how high in the search engine results Google is willing to show your website.
  • Each plugin must be maintained – new versions of PHP, WordPress or other related plugins, may require an update to the plugin.  Someone needs to manage the updates, and ensure that the updates don’t break another piece of functionality.
  • Most plugins must be paid for, increasing your overall website cost.

Because of all these overheads, we ensure that we first seek alternatives other than just installing yet another plugin!

2.  The HTML Widget

The HTML widget, as the name suggests, gives us a way to insert straight code, without Elementor getting in the way.

It can be used to display static tables, charts, etc. so that we do not need separate plugins/widgets to achieve these.

One of the biggest advantages is that we can execute Javascript within the HTML widget by wrapping the Javascript within <script> tags. We have achieved many features in our client websites using this method instead of opting for plugins.

Using Javascript gives us much more control over the functionality required for a particular website.  However, certain types of Javascript or very complex Javascript code cannot be used within the HTML widget. For example, we cannot manipulate core Elementor Javascript operations such as the ajax functionalities.  When such changes are required, we may require an additional plugin.

Javascript also gives us greater control for manipulating the look and feel of dynamic fields as well as introducing new DOM elements on the fly.

We have used the HTML widget combined with Javascript within the Raxo Website to enable the emailing of PDF urls when a website visitor chooses to download a catalogue.

3.  Dynamic Values

We can add dynamic values to a website within Elementor’s standard Text Editor and Heading widgets.  These widgets can be customised to draw in dynamic values which have been added using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, as well as Site fields (Site Url, Site logo), Post fields, etc.  When we use dynamic values, we can also specify the before and after attributes attached to each dynamic field, which can be used to add static data and even html code to prepend and append to the value being displayed.

An example is to add the copyright date dynamically to the footer. For this, we can use the text editor’s dynamic value called ‘Date’.  The Date value displays the current date, and can be customised to display only the year or date in any format required. To display the copyright year, we will use just ‘Y’ within the Custom Value attribute for the Date dynamic field, and insert before and after text for the other information about the date. A footer created this way will always display the current year dynamically.

Another example is when we have a company that has several branches and we need to dynamically display the heading of the page as the relevant location of the organisation, such as ‘<location> organisation’.  In such a case, we can use the Heading widget to dynamically add the Post title and the organisation’s name in the dynamic field’s After attribute. We can also add html tags such as <strong>, <u> and even <a> tags to add links to the dynamic field into these After and Before values. We employ this method within certain pages of the Kool Kidz Childcare website to reference various childcare centre locations.

4.  Custom Queries

A common reason that webmasters add plugins into a WordPress website is to customise the set of information displayed within a particular area of the website.

This problem doesn’t actually require a plugin, if you know how to write custom queries, which are utilised by the various elements within your web pages.

In many use cases, we need to query posts in a way that is not available in Elementor by default.  For example, sorting by custom fields is still not available by Elementor. Elementor allows sorting posts only by date or title. To achieve sorting by custom fields, we need to write custom queries.  Custom queries can be used within the Posts widget which is used to display a list of posts in the appropriate order, and matching certain conditions.

Similarly, while search in WordPress and Elementor applies to the entire website, and although there are several search plugins that can search within particular custom posts, categories, etc., we can simply write custom search queries that will perform the search on not only the desired custom posts but also within the desired custom fields.

By writing our own custom queries (rather than using a plugin), we have better control over the custom queries, and we don’t need to worry about what happens when WordPress or Elementor update the widget in which we are calling the query.

5.  Last Resort:  Install a Plugin

As mentioned above, the biggest issue with adding more plugins is performance, as most plugins will cause significant additional Javascript code to be loaded into the website, which may or may not be used depending on the page, action, etc.  The more plugins, the poorer the performance.

Plugins should be added with caution as support for some plugins might be stopped, causing trouble with later versions of WordPress.  Plugins need to be kept up to date to ensure that they are not causing security or performance issues, and that they co-exist correctly with WordPress.

Upgrading plugins needs to be performed with care, as upgrades are sometimes incompatible with other plugins, or may may not have the same functionality as the earlier version of the plugin.


We love finding new ways to customise WordPress & Elementor websites, that don’t require yet another plugin!  We are all about performance of our client’s websites, at the same time as providing beautiful looking interfaces that wow the visitor, and make it easy for the visitor to find exactly what they need.  Helping you to shine!

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PHP Major Upgrade to Version 8

October 4th, 2022 by Ammu Nair

Over the past few months, we have been busy upgrading our client websites to PHP version 8; the most recent significant version release.

PHP is one of the most widely used programming languages on the internet, powering nearly 80% of all websites, including popular Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal, Magento etc. For the most part, you do not directly interact with PHP, however the reality is your website CMS and other important software components running your website or application relies on PHP to work.

Whilst the regular PHP upgrades we carry out are minor, involving small bug fixes and addressing known security vulnerabilities (known as non-breaking upgrades), a major version upgrade (from 7.x to 8.x) is different.  Major upgrades are packed with significant improvements to performance and security, and therefore affect far more of the language than a minor update.

We are excited to describe in this article, the most interesting optimizations delivered through PHP 8.1, that will help keep your website robust, secure and performing well.

PHP JIT (Just In Time Compiler)

Simply put, JIT monitors your code for functions that repeat frequently and “preload” them to save time and computing resources. JIT will increase the speed of PHP 8 websites and web applications. A performance review conducted by Phoronix determined a performance increase of 7% when switching from PHP 7.4 to PHP 8.0 and a more than 50% increase when using PHP 8.0 with JIT compiler compared to PHP 8.0 without JIT compiler:

JIT, due to the way it works is expected to provide a performance boost mainly to CPU intensive applications, and a slight performance improvement to typical PHP web applications. However, JIT has done wonders for other scripting languages in the past and will open doors to new possibilities that were not previously feasible to PHP. Depending on how deeply you utilise JIT, the downside may be greater complexity and therefore increased development and maintenance costs.

PHP version 8 benchmark

Security vs Fault Tolerance

PHP 8.0 has also removed some previously supported functions in order to make the language more secure. While PHP has consistently been fault tolerant (meaning that it prioritizes code execution over minor violations to conventions which have traditionally just thrown a warning), in many cases the newest version tightens up this area by throwing an error instead of warnings. This means that your website code might need to be modified to run correctly.

Other Changes

A few general changes have also been made to the language. Some pre-loaded functions such as create_function() and each() have been removed, while the mechanism and working of quite a few functions have been modified. The new version is beyond any doubt a step towards cleaning up the language and releasing a lot of long-awaited improvements.

The entire list of changes introduced in PHP8.0 has been published on the PHP website and can be accessed from

Things to Consider Prior to Upgrading

Before upgrading to PHP, there are some important aspects of your website environment that need to be prepared.

  • Server readiness: you need to ensure that the web hosting provider for your application or website is ready to run PHP 8.0. If your website runs on PHP or WordPress and you are not sure if your webserver will support an upgrade to PHP 8, we would be pleased to evaluate your website and assist you with the upgrade.
  • Is your website running on a CMS?: WordPress has already released version 5.6 which is compatible with PHP 8.0. In fact, performance benchmark results show that PHP 8.1 can handle 50% more requests (or transactions) per second, as compared to PHP 7.4 (
  • Themes & Plugins:  As part of upgrading PHP where a CMS is in place, it is also essential to ensure the compatibility of themes and plugins.  Similarly, if your website is running on Laravel or any other PHP based CMS, you will need to make sure that the Laravel version being used by your website can operate on PHP v8.0.

When to Upgrade

PHP 8.0 was officially released in November 2020, causing plenty of buzz in the PHP community with reviews and experiences of features introduced in the release. Over the last 2 years, PHP 8.0 has become widely accepted as a stable version with the PHP coding community ready to support any issues or risks posed by the upgrade.

The End of Life period for PHP v7.4 is fast approaching, which means that after November 2022, if you are faced with any security vulnerabilities on your application running PHP v7.4 or older, you are own your own; the PHP community would not assist you in addressing your issues. This means NOW is certainly the time to upgrade your website or application to the latest version of PHP.

Whilst PHP v8.x has introduced several breaking changes, it also provides numerous optimisations and long-awaited features, allowing developers to write shorter, structured, robust and more readable code. In addition to security improvements, improved performance and shorter loading and access times are the positive consequences of PHP 8.0 and truly justify the effort to update to this version.

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