Before you even start building your website you need to select a web hosting service that provides the reliability and tools you need for success.

Choosing a Web Host: 5 Important Factors to Consider

Aug 16, 2016

Comparing web hosting services can be an arduous and frustrating process. Even if you happen to have a good idea of what you’re looking for, there is no shortage of web hosts to consider.

First you’ll have to decide if you want free or paid website hosting, as well as the types of features that interest you. For those new to building and hosting a website, even seemingly simple decisions may leave you feeling out of your depth.

The good news is that there are options like WordPress hosting that take care of a lot of the heavy lifting for you. These all-in-one platforms offer features like WordPress templates and WordPress themes that allow for easy customization.

Still, there are several things you’ll want to consider before making your final decision. Here are just a few important factors to focus on when choosing a web host.

1. Reliability

This is perhaps the most important factor when choosing any web host. You want to make sure your provider has a track record of reliability, or uptime in other words.

When current and prospective customers visit your website, you want them to access your pages without delay. Part of this relies on you – the way you build your website could have an impact on loading times.

However, your web host also needs to provide reliable service that ensures limited downtime. It’s normal to have scheduled downtime on occasion for maintenance and updates, but if a site gets a lot of complaints related to unscheduled downtime, you’ll probably want to consider other, more reliable options.

2. Scalability

Whether you opt for free or paid web hosting services, you’ll have to determine if the options for bandwidth and storage meet your needs. However, your business needs can change over time.

Most web hosts offer a variety of packages to accommodate the storage (i.e. the files that make up your website) and the number of visitors you anticipate. What if your company grows and you need more product pages? What if you’re overwhelmed with visitors (one can only hope)?

You need a web host that offers options to scale up (or down) depending on your needs, your budget, and the changes your company experiences over time. It’s important to ask about the options available to you up front to ensure that you can make changes to your service should the need arise.

3. Security

Experts say it’s not a matter of if, but when your website will become the target of hackers, so you need to do everything in your power to ensure that data breaches don’t occur. Not only do you want to protect your interests, but most businesses also have a legal obligation to protect the privacy of sensitive customer information.

Your web host may or may not offer security options. Either way, you’ll want to implement your own security solutions to protect your website. However, you should ask about any security they might provide, particularly options like encryption during transfer of data between servers.

4. Backup

Many webhosts offer options for data backup to protect you in case the worst should occur and your data gets compromised, corrupted, or lost for any reason. You may have options to back up files as you see fit, or to automate the process for ease of use.

Files can be compromised for any number of reasons, such as data breach, equipment failure, or potentially even corrupted data being uploaded from your end. Regardless, you want assurances that you can get your website back up and running as soon as possible following such scenarios. Backups will reduce your downtime.

5. Analytics

There is no shortage of programs designed to provide you with metrics pertaining to web traffic, the amount of time visitors spent on pages, the funnels that brought them to your site, and more. You may therefore think it’s not important to find a web host that offers analytical tools.

While it’s true that you can get by with third-party analytics, the tools provided by your web host are probably fully integrated with their other features, ensuring compatibility and likely the best functionality. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker if a web host meets all of your other criteria, but it’s definitely a perk you should look for when choosing a suitable web host.

If your business is struggling to achieve its online goals, then consider upgrading to a more professional website with WordPress.

6 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Professional Website

Aug 9, 2016

Anyone can build a website these days thanks to sites like WordPress that offer easy-to-use tools like WordPress templates. Whether you happen to have a background in professional web design or not, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t save some money and do it yourself.

Most people have only dabbled in web design, if they’ve done any at all. When it comes to your business, you want to make sure that the website you create is professional. With the tools available through WordPress and plenty of tutorials to guide you, you have the opportunity to create the attractive and compelling website your business needs to succeed in the online arena.

Your website is a virtual representation of your business, and every element is important; from the web hosting services you consider to the content you write to the layout and design you choose. Every choice serves to further (or hinder) the progress of your enterprise.

In other words, a professional website is essential. Here are just a few reasons why you need a professional website to ensure the success of your business, not only in the online arena, but in the real world, as well.

1. Build Your Brand

Your brand is so much more than a logo or a mission statement. It has to do with the quality of goods you produce, how you promote your business, whether or not customers are satisfied, and the general view the consumer public has of your company.

Your website is a part of your brand and a well-designed website can help you to reach and influence your consumer base. Proper website hosting will ensure uptime, but from there you need to build a site that represents your brand in the online arena.

Your website must embody the ideals your brand rests on, the tone and message you wish to convey, and the aesthetic that permeates all of your marketing and promotional materials. It must represent your company and help you to bolster your existing brand image. A professional website is the lynchpin of your online empire.

2. Make a Good First Impression

These days, customers are likely to have their first interaction with your company via your website, so you want to make a good first impression. Can you imagine if prospective customers walked into a store to find it in complete disarray, with no way to find what they were looking for and no one to help them?

You cannot allow this to be their experience online. The use of WordPress themes can help you to create an attractive and cohesive appearance, but you also need to focus on prominent placement of the most important content, easy navigation, mobile optimization, and providing help through contact information or even live chat features.

3. Remain Competitive

All you have to do is peruse competitor websites to see what a professional design looks like. If you don’t have a professional website, you simply can’t compete. Savvy online shoppers will know the difference immediately, and if they suspect you don’t know what you’re doing, they’ll choose your competitors.

4. Establish Authority

WordPress hosting allows you the opportunity to build a business website, but you have to do the work to make the platform deliver results. With a professional website design you can not only attract visitors, but also establish your authority within your field.

This can be accomplished through the content you provide. You can show your expertise through the goods and services you offer, as well as a proven understanding of what consumers want and need.

5. Inspire Conversions

It takes a lot of work to bring visitors to your website. Whether you’re advertising, engaging in SEO, or using directories, it’s going to take time and money to funnel people to your site. Then what?

A professional website will inspire people to join your mailing list, peruse the goods or services you have to offer, make purchases, visit again, and/or share and promote your brand. The way you build your website can help you to accomplish any or all of these goals.

6. Expand

Your website is the hub of your online operations, the business center that your SEO, social media, advertising, and other online efforts lead back to. It is the face of your company online and it may also host your online store.

Any hope of expanding through online efforts begins with a professional website. If your business lacks this crucial tool, you cannot reasonably hope to increase visibility or expand your online operations.

There are several reasons why to choose WordPress for setting up and managing your website. Here are a few for your consideration.

5 Reasons to Choose WordPress for Your Website

Aug 5, 2016

When comparing web hosting services you’re likely to find that some are better than others. Some may offer reliability where others provide scalable solutions. Some are free and some have tiered plans for payment depending on the features you want.

What makes WordPress hosting your best option? There are several reasons why WordPress can offer everything you need to set up and manage your website. Here are a few for your consideration.

Tutorials

Unless you have a background in web design, chances are it all sounds like Greek to you. This is a problem if you’ve decided to save some dough by setting up a website on your own.

WordPress is designed with your needs in mind. This all-inclusive software provides the tools and templates you need to get started designing your website.

You can also find an abundance of tutorials online that teach you everything from adding an admin user, to customizing feeds, to developing a color scheme. If you’re wondering how to get a job done, there are literally dozens of tutorials offered by WordPress, with plenty more provided by users.

Customization

You can quickly and easily get started building your custom website with WordPress templates, but where you’ll really start to have fun is when you begin to incorporate customizable WordPress themes. The tools and features offered by this platform allow you to create a one-of-a-kind website without any prior web design experience.

Optimization

One of the best reasons to use WordPress for website hosting these days is that most of the themes offered are already optimized for mobile, meaning that users viewing your pages on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices will enjoy the same great experience as those viewing it on computer desktops.

In addition, WordPress makes it easy to engage in SEO (search engine optimization), whether you undertake your own efforts or you utilize existing SEO plugins.

Support

Not only does WordPress offer a variety of support options to help you deal with any issues you come up against in the process of creating and administering your website, but there is a vast community of users and developers that can help you with both technical and design questions.

Longevity

WordPress has been around for more than a decade at this point, which has given them plenty of time to work out the kinks, expand their services, and perfect their platform. You will benefit from the seamless integration of features designed to satisfy user demands.

if you're new to the process of website optimization, you probably don't know where to start. Here are a few basic SEO tips to set you on the right path.

Basic SEO for Your New Website

Jul 27, 2016

Search engine optimization is a complex undertaking for any website. You can save a lot of time and trouble by choosing WordPress hosting for web hosting services – not only does this platform make it easy to build and maintain your website thanks to WordPress templates, but they offer SEO plugins to help you out.

Still, if you’re new to the process of website optimization, you simply might not know where to get started when it comes to SEO. Here are a few basic tenets of search engine optimization to set you on the right path.

Create a Sitemap

If you already have links to your pages listed on a toolbar or you’ve adopted the modern hamburger pulldown, you might not see the point of creating a sitemap that lists all your pages. This is a huge mistake from an SEO perspective.

Sitemaps are used by search engines to index the pages on your website. Without this tool, it is much more difficult for search bots to discover and catalog your pages. In fact, without a sitemap, some of your pages may never be found. This basic tool is an essential part of your SEO strategy.

List with Search Engines

So you’ve found suitable website hosting and you’ve completed your site. What now? The next step is to list your website with search engines so that they can begin indexing and ranking you compared to your competitors.

Understanding algorithms used to rank your site is the next major step, but first you have to make sure that Google and other search engines know you exist and that they’re actively keeping track of your efforts to optimize.

Focus on Content and Usability

It’s certainly fun to spend time customizing WordPress themes to create an attractive and welcoming website for visitors, but you also need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of your website, including content and usability. Your site must be functional and appealing in a variety of ways to please both visitors and search engines.

Organically Grow Links

You definitely want links pointing back to your site, but in order to avoid the stigma (and penalties) associated with linking schemes of the past, you need to work to grow your network of backlinks organically and secure links from quality websites that are already highly ranked by search engines.

Track and Analyze

No matter how you choose to practice SEO, you cannot afford to fail when it comes to follow-up. The good news is that there are plenty of analytics tools to help you track metrics and make the most of your online efforts.

To make it easy for you, we've narrowed down 5 key considerations that you will want to keep in mind when it comes to selecting your WordPress theme.

5 Considerations When Picking a WordPress Theme

Jun 27, 2016

WordPress is a great tool for web building and web hosting services. Many people take advantage of its user-friendly features to put together attractive websites even if they don’t have a lot of experience doing so. That said, when it comes to picking a WordPress theme in particular, the menu of WordPress templates choices you are presented with can give a beginning web builder a definite feeling of overload (like ordering breakfast at a restaurant with two dozen different kinds of pancakes).

So to make it easier for you, we’ve narrowed down 5 key considerations that you will want to keep in mind when it comes to selecting your WordPress themes.

1. Compliment Your Content

One basic thing you should always remember when selecting a theme or a template, whether WordPress is your choice for website hosting or not, is that the theme of the site needs to complement the actual content you are displaying.

Some formats will lend themselves more to a clearer visibility of text, so if there needs to be a lot of written content on your site, you will need a theme that compliments that requirement. Likewise if you need to display a lot of illustrative photographs (say you are a wedding photographer or a landscaper) you will want to make sure that the template you select will allow your pictures to be displayed in an appealing and central way.

2. Simplify

WordPress hosting is great because it provides you with a lot of options in terms of themes and templates. But the truth is that, as many bells and whistles as you could add on to your website, it is usually better to leave them out. A lot of extraneous detail, features, and content doesn’t do anything to enhance the appeal of your website. In fact, it usually winds up being more work for less value.

The more extra stuff on your website, the more difficult it is for the user to navigate. That’s not what you want. Don’t overburden yourself or the user with unnecessary features, graphics, and content. Keep it clean, understandable, and user friendly, and you will be happy with the result.

3. Useful Plugins

There are a number of plugins that are more or less necessary for building a usable and functional WordPress site. Plugins for contact pages, for integrating third party payment sites, SEO plugins, and many others are available to increase the overall usability of your website, and given that users are increasingly used to having these features on other sites you really can’t afford to do without some of them. Be sure to check out the plugin directory on WordPress to see exactly what your options are.

4. Technical Support

There is a variety themes created by many different developers available for you to choose from on WordPress. Some of them you have to pay to use and others of them are free. And many of the free ones are good – good enough to consider using for your business’s site.

The problem with the free templates, however, is that not all of them offer any technical support from the developer. That can be a problem if you run into problems that you don’t have the ability to solve yourself. You might wind up paying a third party money you didn’t expend in order to fix your website, or you might just wind up making a big mess of things yourself.

If you pay for a theme on WordPress, then you should have access to support staff to help you with any issues. There are free themes, however, that offer support as well. Be selective in which ones you choose and try to stick with the ones where there is a team of people to help you if something goes wrong.

5. SEO

One thing that is easy for a beginner to overlook is the impact his or her WordPress theme will have on his or her SEO. Remember, it only does so much good to have a beautiful website that is coded in such a way to where it becomes invisible on a search engine.

You want to read the reviews, do a little bit of research, and make sure that the HTML coding and the structure of the template will boost your search engine visibility. Building a great website is important, but people have to be able to find it for it to matter.

Wordpress theme customization may sound intimidating if you're totally new to it, but customizing templates doesn't have to be complicated.

WordPress Theme Customization for Newbies

Jun 23, 2016

Customizing your WordPress templates and altering its codes probably sounds like a complicated thing to try and do, especially if you are a newbie to WordPress’s web hosting services. True, WordPress provides many options for themes from many different developers, but if you need to make changes and don’t know how to go about it then you can certainly get yourself into a bit of trouble.

But it does not have to be an intimidating proposition either, nor do you have to become an expert on how to make a website. There’s a fairly simple process by which you can use the website template or WordPress theme of your choice and still be able to make key changes…without screwing everything up.

Using Parent and Child Themes

For any theme that you select for your website on WordPress, you can create what is in essence a replica of the theme called a “child” theme, that allows you to make basic changes to the theme without have to change the original file. This is useful for a couple of reasons.

For one, it is sort of a way of backing up any changes you might make to the parent theme, (and that is because any changes you would otherwise have made directly to the parent theme would be eliminated once the parent them is updated). But for the purposes of beginners, it’s useful because you can get creative and make mistakes on the child theme without altering the original design.

What you do on the child theme you can easily use to modify the parent theme. If not, you can change them or get rid of them without any harm being done.

Creating the Child Theme

To create the child theme, you first have to create one new folder and one new file. Give the folder the same name as the child theme, which would typically best be the name of the parent theme, then “child” (for instance, Lefashion–child). Then name the file style.css using a text editor. Don’t forget to add the suffix, because otherwise the file won’t function as it must.

After that, you’ll want to insert the following code into your file:
/*
Theme Name: My Child Theme
Theme URI: http://mysite.com/
Description: This is a custom child theme I have created.
Author: My Name
Author URI: http://mysite.com/
Template: parenttheme
Version: 0.1
*/

After having done so, you’ll want to change the text on the line that reads “Template” to read the name of the parent theme you are using, as opposed to just “parenttheme.” Then, after having done that, you’ll want to insert this following line of code which will apply the same styling info to your child theme as is contained in your parent theme.

@import url(“../parenttheme/style.css”);

Be sure to change “parent theme” to read the actual name of the parent template you are using.

At this point, all you have to do is save your file, and upload it to your WordPress installation via an FTP program (file transfer protocol), which enables you to transfer files between your computer and an online server.

The child theme will then pop up on your WordPress dashboard. At this point you can edit it as you see fit without making any changes to the parent theme. If you take it step-by-step, you’ll find that it is really not so complicated a process after all.

Plugins vs. Code

One thing to be aware of when you are making changes to your theme and customizing your website is that there will be time when you can add the same web store, navigational, or other features via a simple line of code rather than utilizing a plugin.

Plugins are great, of course, but it is good to avoid using one if possible and instead add a simple line of code to achieve the desired effect. That is because many plugins use more code then they really need to execute their particular function. Having too many plugins, therefore, is the same thing as having a lot of excess code, and that will slow down your load times and hurt your sites usability.

Learn what simple codes might be able to replace which plugins as you make your updates. That way you’ll be able to give your site the awesome features it needs, while ensuring your visitors have little trouble using them.

There are certain areas where websites could still stand for improvement. Here are just 6 ways you might be able to improve user experience on your website.

6 Ways to Improve User Experience on Your Website

Jun 20, 2016

Could your website be more user friendly? Odds are, it can be. Making just any old website is not a hard things to do, particularly with the web hosting services of Content Management Systems like WordPress. Knowing how to make a website is about as easy as going to a web store and selecting a website template or a WordPress theme. Still, there are certain areas where many websites could still stand for improvement. Here are just 6 ways you might be able to improve your users experience.

1. Navigability

Many websites are not easy to use because they are not easy to navigate. It is unclear where certain information is, the home page scrolls downwards or even side-to-side endlessly, a dozen tabs sit in from of you in small print. Reduce the number of tabs on the home screen and instead use drop down menus that only appear when clicked on or hovered over. Add a search bar in the top right corner so any information not readily apparent can easily be searched for.

2. Cut Clutter

If you’re homepage looks like the website equivalent of a living room off of Hoarders, then you’ve got some cleaning up to do. Cut out all extraneous text, as well as extraneous pictures or photographs. You may think that everything you have written or sitting out on the homepage is important enough for visitors to sit around reading, but truth is they won’t have time for it. Plus it’s stressful to look at. Cut out the excess and let the eyes focus on the essentials.

3. Social Media Bars

If you have content on your website worth sharing, like a homepage video or blogs, allow people to share. Have your social media share bar up with immediate links to Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. It’s a cool feature for the user, but it will also pull new traffic to your site.

4. Reduce Load Times

One thing that is guaranteed to drive away visitors is if your website just takes too long to load. There are different ways to reduce loading times, including replacing plugins with simpler lines of code where possible. Are their easy changes you can make to reduce your load times?

5. Uniform Layout

This may be the ultimate amateur mistake, but make sure each page on your site is uniform. Jumping from one page to the next and feeling like you’re on a different website is just weird and may encourage visitors to leave your page.

6. Moderate Colors and Fonts

A final tip: don’t overdo the fonts and colors. Some people are colorblind. Nobody wants to look at a whole bunch of different kinds of font on a single page. It may seem cool when you’re putting it together, but a consistent font implies a professional image. That’s a big deal at the end of the day.

If you're developing a new website, here are a few words of wisdom you can go by in deciding on the best plugins to use for your particular Wordpress site.

How to Choose the Best Plugins for Your WordPress Website

Jun 16, 2016

If you are developing a website, and especially if you are using web hosting services from WordPress, you have probably heard that plugins are a very important part of building a functional and user friendly website. But with all of the different WordPress templates and WordPress themes available to you, how exactly do you go about deciding what are the best plugins to use for your website on top of that? Well, there are a few words of wisdom you can go by in deciding which plugins to use for your particular website.

Prioritize Your Features

WordPress is what you call a CMS or “Content Management System.” As such, in addition to website hosting, WordPress hosting allows you to manage the content of your website in a way that enables you to select from a wide variety of themes, templates, and plugins to give your website the look, format, features, and precise functionality that should give your site’s users the optimal experiences…if you use WordPress’s features right. It begins with deciding exactly what features you want on your website.

There are all sorts of features a person could have on their website; each one is not necessarily as important as the others. Some acclaimed plugins available on WordPress are “WordPress SEO” which, beyond being a simple SEO plugin, adds descriptions and titles to articles, provides analytical information, xml sitemap, and plenty more; “BackupBuddy” which sets a backup schedule for your website and stores all your information safely in the cloud; “W3 Total Cache” which optimizes speed and performance on your site.

Whatever you prioritize in the way of features, doing so is important to being able to make a rational decision as to which plugins you ought to utilize in building out your website.

Evaluating Plugins

Once you know what you are looking for, comparing the different plugins side by side is fairly easy. There are a lot of tools on WordPress to help you do this, include plugin ratings, plugin user reviews, etc. Each plugin has a page that allows you to read about it in detail to compare its functions one to the other. They even have support threads where you can see issues related to the plugins in the process of being solved and you draw conclusions on the effectiveness of that plugins support structure to a certain degree based on those threads.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of information available to you to help you compare the many plugins you will have on your web-building menu. Be a good researcher, do your homework, and you will have a clear idea of which plugins will do the most for your website in not much time at all.

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