Corporate Blogs

The Best Web Hosting for WordPress

Reseller Club Blog -

A common question for anyone who has just built their website is to figure out which web hosting service to use. The options in the market are endless. The conundrum is not only to pick the right web hosting company but also which web hosting package to purchase from the many types available within that company. This blog will focus on the best web hosting for WordPress in particular and will share all the information you need to make the right decision on your own by just asking a few questions. Why? As obvious as it may seem, making the right choice of web hosting product is critical for the success of your WordPress website or blog. Customers today judge a website in the first few seconds of a page loading. A slow page, or one with obvious security issues will lose any traffic that it attracts, for good. Your choice will determine how efficient your WordPress website or blog will be with regards to: Speed Scalability Security Pick the right web host: Ask the following questions of each WordPress web hosting company you come across: How long have they been in the industry? How many customers do they have? What reviews do you see from those customers online? (while online reviews cannot always be trusted, it should give you a general idea) What kind of support system do they offer? Are there different ways to reach out to their teams? Are they available 24X7? Do they offer other related web service products such as security, email and backup solutions? Purchasing everything you need for your website in one place will reduce the time you spend coordinating with different providers What steps/technology do they implement to guard against security threats? What is their backup policy? Do they offer servers in locations closer to you? (web page speed is everything) Do they allow you the ability to manage your hosting package on the go i.e from a mobile device? And most importantly, do they specifically have WordPress Hosting?   Pick the best web hosting for WordPress: Once you zero in on the right web hosting company for you, you need to figure out which of their web hosting packages will suit your website. Like I already mentioned, if you have a WordPress website, you must purchase a WordPress Hosting package. Why? While a regular web hosting package such as Shared or Cloud Hosting could suffice for your WordPress website, it will not give you the edge that a WordPress Hosting package can. A WordPress Hosting environment is optimized to deliver the best speed, performance and security to a WordPress website. Here are a list of items you should look at when considering a WordPress hosting package: Pre-installed WordPress: Good web hosting companies will offer the WordPress script pre-installed on your server to let you get started within minutes. Automatic WordPress updates: WordPress is an open-source script supported by web developers around the world. They ensure that the platform is continuously updated with the latest features and also plug any security loopholes that are detected. Therefore, a good web hosting company will offer automatic WordPress updates to ensure you face no issues with a old script. Speed enhancement: The best hosting for WordPress will offer solutions such as advanced caching and a CDN to help you deliver the fastest page speeds to your client. Scalability: How easy is it to upgrade to a higher plan once your website starts growing? For example, ResellerClub’s WordPress Hosting product lets you increase your RAM and CPU on-demand to cater to the growth of your website. Security: As the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world, WordPress is subject to a lot of security threats. The WordPress team regularly fixes security issues on the platform and releases them as updates. To ensure that your website has the best protection, look at what security solutions your web hosts provides along your WordPress hosting package. For example, Companies like SiteGround monitor and fix vulnerabilities on WordPress and its plugins at the server level before official WordPress releases and at ResellerClub, our WordPress Hosting product offers SiteLock, an anti-malware solution to ensure robust security. For some additional security, we recommend adding these plugins to your WordPress website. Managed WordPress Hosting – How much hand-holding do you need? A few companies will offer a version called Managed WordPress Hosting that will involve the web host managing hosting and administrative (especially technical) tasks for you. This is to let you focus on running your business and not having to worry about the technicalities of web hosting. Managed Hosting providers do this in various ways. Liquid Web, for example, manages plugin updates. ResellerClub helps takes away the worry of backing up your website with our CodeGuard integration in our packages. CodeGuard is a cloud-based backup service that backs up your data and stores it in a high-secure environment.   This should give you a good idea of how to pick the best web hosting for WordPress. Do you have a few more questions or points to add to this list? We’d like to hear from you!

It’s alive! Image SEO is back from the dead

Reseller Club Blog -

Image optimization used to be a vital part of both content and on-site optimization efforts, allowing brands and marketers to use image search as a means of driving traffic to their websites. However, the successful practice of using image optimization for traffic generation was coming to an end. In 2013, Google updated its image search UI and added the now infamous “view image” button, a move that resulted in substantial declines in image search traffic across a number of different verticals. Large brands and enterprise-level companies suffered the most damage, as they had already spent considerable amounts of effort and resources to optimize their Content Management Systems, image catalogs, captions and XML sitemaps for search engines. Image optimization was ultimately rendered useless by nothing more than a simple button and as such, fell out of use with marketers and SEO specialists. But what no one saw coming was the complaint filed with the European Commission claiming the tech giant was knowingly using their image search UI update to divert image searchers from websites that were hosting those images in the first place. Fortunately, this story got its happy ending in February of 2018, when Google finally agreed to remove the button and bring image SEO back from the dead. How does a simple button fit into all of this? The issue image hosting companies had with Google’s “view image” solution is that it opens the image directly, allowing for it to be easily downloaded, instead of redirecting users to the page that hosts and licenses the actual image. Getty Images, one of the largest stock-image repositories in the world is the one who filed the complaint with the EU, claiming that Google was scraping images for the sake of, well, Google, while at the same time failing to provide credit for the original owners of said images. Given that Google had already been fined more than €2.42bn by the EU authorities, removing the “view image” button and avoiding a costly and oftentimes lengthy trial becomes less a matter of choice and more a matter of practicality. In the end, the two digital giants managed to reach an understanding and make a mutually beneficial partnership deal, prompting Getty Images to withdraw their charges soon thereafter. With the “view image” button finally gone, image hosting and licensing websites are starting to experience an increase in image search-related traffic. Data collected from 58 different websites shows a solid 37% increase in image search-related clicks, which is great news, once you consider that those same websites lost around 70% or all their image search traffic just a couple of years ago when the button was first implemented. Why is image SEO so important? Image SEO serves two main purposes: Optimizing the data normally embedded inside the image and Search engine crawlers rely on this embedded data to not only index different web pages, but also different on-page elements. Embedded image data includes the file name, title tag, alternative tag, meta tag and in some situations the caption and anchor text. Reducing the file size while preserving image quality. Image size and page load times are closely connected. The bigger the file size, the more time it will take for all of them to load. The more time it takes to load, the more likely is the visitor to abandon your website. Attributes including file size, page-load times, bounce back rates, etc are just some of the many factors considered by search engines when determining your page rank. How do I optimize my images? Never use images that you personally do not own or without the necessary permissions. Stock photos are the easiest solution, as long as they are used with taste, they convey your message and don’t feel out of place or out of touch. Besides stock images, you can also use graphics, illustrations or even animated gifs. Always use high-quality, reduced-file size images for your pages. If your images are still too large, you can always reduce their size by wiping the EXIF data. WordPress users are encouraged to use responsive images that have a special srcset attribute that allows them to serve different images for different screen widths and provide a custom mobile experience. What shall we call you? The best file name is an informative file name. It should offer clues and provide a useful description regarding the subject matter portrayed in the image. If you have an image of a black cat with a red bow, black-cat-red-bow would probably be your best option. Title tags provide the image title, while alt-tags act as an alternative text used to convey the same information and functionality as if the image were there. Make sure your alt text contains the SEO keyword corresponding to that page, when appropriate and necessary. If you lack the necessary experience and knowledge about SEO it should be easy enough to find the top digital advertising agencies currently operating in the industry and follow their example. What lies ahead As bright as the future seems for image optimization practices, Google is, at the moment, the only search engine to completely remove the “view image” button from its UI. On the other hand, Bing and DuckDuckGo have kept this functionality, signalling that image SEO is nowhere near the level it once was, or potentially could be. In fact, the majority of SEO clients were quite reluctant to spend their valuable resources post-2013. The overall lack of attention and available resources might further slow down the rebound of image SEO, however, it’s safe to say that the practice isn’t going away anytime soon.

Do I Need a Dedicated IP Address?

InMotion Hosting Blog -

When signing up with a web hosting provider, you are offered many add-ons, and it may be hard to know which you need. One common add-on is a dedicated IP address. Do you even need a dedicated IP address? Today, we’ll go over the benefits and help you decide whether to add this valuable feature to your hosting plan. What is a Dedicated IP Address? A dedicated IP address is a unique internet protocol (IP) address solely for your websites and hosting account. Continue reading Do I Need a Dedicated IP Address? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

A guide to SFTP key file setup for FileZilla

Name.com Blog -

If you want to further secure your hosting account, requiring an SSH key upon login is one of the best ways to do so. Setup for SFTP keys will differ depending on the FTP client you are using, but today we’ll go over how to activate additional security measures for your account via FileZilla. Start by […] The post A guide to SFTP key file setup for FileZilla appeared first on Name.com Blog.

Microsoft Inspires Partner Focus on Customer Solutions for 2018

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

The “power of partnership,” a main theme at this year’s Inspire, Microsoft’s annual partner conference, transformed the event from a series of lectures and presentations into a unique opportunity for partners to collaborate and build solutions together. Traditionally, Inspire focuses on enabling partners and sellers to speak to the latest and greatest in Microsoft’s developments. […] The post Microsoft Inspires Partner Focus on Customer Solutions for 2018 appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

6 Options for SSL Certificates to Secure Your Website

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Building customer trust or obtaining customers’ confidence in your business website is a must. The best way to accomplish this trust is to install a SSL certificate. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are used to secure website pages when submitting necessary sensitive information. Sensitive information can be in the form of payment methods, online services such online banking, and account login websites. SSL certificates can also be used to gain an end user’s trust. Google has incentives for website owners to install SSL certificates for search engine rank benefits. When the SSL certificate is installed to a website, the URL will change from http to https. A padlock will appear in the URL address bar. This builds immediate trust with those visiting your site. A Certificate Authority (CA), a trusted third party, generates and issues SSL certificates for websites. There are a variety of types of SSL validation levels. It’s important to be familiar with them to know which to install. Below is a list of the different types of SSL certificates that can be purchased. Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL) Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL) Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL) Wildcard SSL Certificate Multi-Domain SSL Certificate (MDC) Unified Communications Certificate (UCC) Let’s dive into each. Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL) The highest ranking and most expensive SSL certificate is an Extended Validation Certificate. This type of SSL certificate, when installed, will display on the browser address bar, the padlock, HTTPS, name of the business, and the country. Displaying the website owner’s information in the address bar will help distinguish the site from malicious sites. To receive this type of SSL certificate, the website owner will need to go through a standardized identity verification process to confirm the website owner is authorized legally to the exclusive rights to their domain. EV SSL certificates are used, in high profile websites, for applications that require identity assurance such as collecting data, processing logins or online payments. Types of Browser Views with EV SSL Certificates Chrome will show a padlock, HTTPS, the name of the business, and the country code in green font. Firefox will show a padlock, the name of the business, and the country code in green font and HTTPS. Microsoft Edge will show a padlock, the name of the business, and the country code in green font and HTTPS. Safari will show the green padlock and the name of the business. Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL) Organization Validation SSL certificates’ main purpose is to encrypt user’s sensitive information during transactions. This version of the SSL certificates has a high assurance similar to the EV SSL certificate which is used to validate a business’ creditably. This SSL certificate type also displays the website owner’s information in the address bar to help distinguish from malicious sites. OV SSL certificates are the second highest in price. Commercial or public facing websites have a requirement to install an OV SSL certificate to assure that any customer information shared remains confidential. To obtain an OV SSL certificate, the website owner will need to complete a substantial validation process. A Certification Authority (CA) will investigate the website owner to see if they have the right to their specific domain name. Once the SSL certificate is installed, the business information will be displayed in the browser address bar. Types of Browser Views with OV SSL Certificates Chrome shows padlock, business name, country code and HTTPS in green font. Firefox shows a green padlock, business name and country code in green font, and HTTPS. Microsoft Edge shows a green padlock, business name and country code in green font, and HTTPS. Safari will show the green padlock and the name of the business. Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL) Domain Validation SSL Certificate has a low assurance and basic encryption typically for blogs or informational websites. The validation process to obtain this SSL certificate is minimal. The process only requires for website owners to prove domain ownership by responding to an email or phone call. This SSL certificate type is one of the least expensive and fastest to obtain. The browser address bar will only display HTTPS and a padlock. The business name will not be included. If you do not need extra assurance for your website visitors, then you would install a Domain Validation SSL certificate. Types of Browser Views with DV SSL Certificates All browsers will only show a green padlock and HTTPS. Wildcard SSL Certificates Wildcard SSL certificates are used to secure a base domain and unlimited subdomains. Purchasing a wildcard SSL certificate is cheaper than purchasing several single domain SSL certificates. OV Wildcard SSL certificates or DV Wildcard SSL certificates are available for purchase. Wildcard SSL certificates will have an asterisk * as part of the common name. The asterisk * will represent any valid subdomain that has the same base domain. For example, the common name can be *.example.com. This SSL certificate can be installed for install.example.com, list.example.com, etc. Multi-Domain SSL Certificates Multi-Domain certificates can secure up to 100 different domain names and subdomains using a single certificate which helps save time and money. You have control of the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) field to add, change, and delete any of the SANs as needed. Domain Validated, Organization Validated, Extended Validated, and Wildcard SSL types are available as well. Here are some domain name examples that can be secured with just one Multi-Domain SSL certificate: www.domain.com www.domain.in www.domain.org domain.com checkout.domain.com mail.domain.com secure.exampledomain.org www.website.com www.example.co.uk Unified Communications Certificates (UCC) Unified Communications Certificates (UCC) are also considered Multi-domain SSL certificates. UCCs were originally designed to secure Microsoft Exchange and Live Communications servers. Today, these certificates can be used by website owners. This type of SSL certificate allows multiple domain names to be secured on a single certificate. UCC Certificates are organizationally validated and display a padlock on a browser. UCCs can be used as EV SSL certificates to give website visitors the highest assurance through the green address bar. Conclusion There is a great importance to having SSL certificates securing websites. Giving website visitors’ confidence in their safety is key to having a successfully website. Remember: If a website has HTTP instead of HTTPS, then the browser will send all the information as plain text to the web server. If anyone is watching the web traffic, they will be able to see that information. If the website has a SSL certificate installed and using HTTPS, then the web traffic will be encrypted. This is of great importance for collecting any customer’s sensitive information. Lastly, Google has incentives for websites that have SSL certificates installed. And helping Google to rank your website higher should be at the top of your list. Need Help Securing Your Site? The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting at Liquid Web can help setup SSL Certificates on all of your sites and make sure you are secure. Check out all of our Security Essentials. The post 6 Options for SSL Certificates to Secure Your Website appeared first on Liquid Web.

4 Easy Fixes to Restore Traffic Post Redesign

Reseller Club Blog -

Redesigning is a big effort. The intent of redesign could be to improve content, design, product offerings, etc. to make your website more user-friendly, all in the effort to encourage more hits. However, while the purpose of redesign is to improve traffic or user experience or both, your website could actually see a decline in traffic right after the redesign. Although traffic drops after redesign is a general trend, a drop greater than 10% is worrisome. Why does redesign cause a traffic drop? In order to serve the new version of your webpages, Google needs to crawl and index them so a temporary drop in traffic is expected. However, if the drop in traffic is significant, it could need some fixing. Redirects: Unless your URLs are exactly the same as before, failure to redirect old URLs to new ones can be the biggest cause of a traffic drop. This is because redirects inform search engines and browsers where the new page is and failure to do so will indicate to the search engine that the page has been removed or doesn’t exist. The fix: Ensure your changed URL structure or your old pages are all moved to the new locations with proper redirects in place. You can log into Google’s Search Console, select Crawl > Crawl Errors and click the “Not Found” tab. Pages without redirects will show up here. Then, implement 301 redirects for your old web pages. 301 redirects tell search engine bots that your old URLs have been moved to new ones. With this, your traffic should be back to normal in a couple of weeks. Site Structure/ Sitemap: Another aspect Google considers during indexing is your sitemap. If your redesign is extensive, such that your sitemap also changes, you’ll probably need a new / updated site structure to prevent traffic drops. A sitemap is a basic listing of all your web pages. Again, the Search Console can help speed up the crawling and indexing to restore traffic. The fix: Create a new site structure with all the important pages in place. Try and keep the limit of pages to a maximum of 100. If you overshoot that limit, crawlers will consider a general overview rather than a complete listing. Content: Redesign could mean improvements to content as well. However, the problem could arise when you forget to include content and keywords that either were on the old website or which bring traffic to your site. This again leads to a drop in traffic. The fix: Give SEO priority. At ResellerClub, even though our website has undergone a couple of redesigns, we always ensure our SEO specialists are always  included in the redesign process right from the start. An SEO specialist will help you identify keywords and advise on how to increase traffic. Robots.txt file blocking: The robots.txt file lets search engines know which pages to index and which ones not to. It’s a good practice to disable the indexing when your site is under development / being redesigned. However, it’s important to update the Robots.txt file once your new site is live. Failure to do so will continue to restrict search engines from indexing. The fix: Ensure your Robots.txt files are always updated before you launch your redesigned site. Keep a tab on which pages are allowed to be indexed and which ones are disabled by checking your files in a browser. In the address bar, enter your website domain name followed by /robots.txt. Once here, you will be able to view your files. Here’s what it looks like: Keep these best practices in mind and you will see the traffic to your website restored. If you’re still seeing a drop in traffic, keep a check on Google Analytics which can give you some insight about where you’re seeing drop-offs. Check out these articles for more: Getting the most out of Google Analytics – Part I Getting the most out of Google Analytics – Part II Getting the most out of Google Analytics – Part III Comment & let us know if this helped!

Law Specialists Won’t Settle For Unremarkable Digital Experiences

WP Engine -

Cardiff-based digital agency, Illustrate Digital, is a digital agency that specialises in WordPress development and user experience design. They chose WordPress for its simplicity and flexibility. During their eight-year journey, they’ve acquired clients such as National Theatre Wales, Admiral Insurance, Penguin Random House, Welsh Government, and more. As they’ve grown, they’ve come to realize the value… The post Law Specialists Won’t Settle For Unremarkable Digital Experiences appeared first on WP Engine.

5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses

HostGator Blog -

The post 5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses appeared first on HostGator Blog. 5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses The summer is a slow time of year for most businesses, with many customers and clients out enjoying the longer days and extended vacations. This makes summer the perfect time to implement new technology. With your business and employees less stressed by pressing deadlines and client demands, you can finally tackle some of those technology projects or updates that have been put on the back burner. Bolster your tech before this season ends with these tech initiatives. 1. Digital Security Big, high-profile business aren’t the only ones being attacked by cyber criminals. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses represent 58 percent of data breach victims. Per the report, the majority of breaches (73 percent) came from outsider threats, while 50 percent came from organized criminal groups and 12 percent involved nation-state or state-affiliated actors. To protect your business from expensive and damaging cyber attacks, it’s important to implement improved digital security. For example, if you don’t have an IT team, consider hiring consultants who can mitigate threats and monitor regularly for you. Use the summer months to educate your employees as well. You may even want to start a cyber security series, sharing a new digital security tip for employees to learn and then follow each week.   2. Mobile Responsive Website More and more consumers are accessing information and purchasing goods via their mobile device. According to eMarketer’s estimates, smartphone retail mcommerce sales in the U.S. increased more than 50 percent in 2017, to total $102.14 billion. In order to successfully compete, it’s important for small business owners to have a mobile responsive website. This makes it easy for customers to find and purchase your products or services, or simply read about what you have to offer—which is, of course, step one in the buying process. To do so, start with your development team. Is your website already mobile responsive? If so, head online and test it with a number of mobile browsers. What’s showing up wrong? What’s not working properly? Better yet: do what the big tech companies do and “eat your own dog food.” In this case, that means requiring employees to only use your app or website via mobile for an entire week. You’ll be sure to come up with a long list of issues that need to be addressed.   3. Better Developer Training Employee training is valuable for all employees, but especially those in tech-focused roles, like your development team. With technology changing at what feels like the speed of light, and more and more tasks on their plate each day, it’s crucial that they stay up-to-date. As you look to improve your online training for this team, start by asking them what they want to learn about. “If you haven’t asked your technical talent what they want to learn, you could be missing an opportunity to customize your learning strategy, and more importantly, to build your business. Your technical talent is often closest to problems that will produce cost savings and or increase sales, service or efficiency if solved. Therefore, they often know what they need to learn—so ask,” suggests DeveloperAcademy.io. Use their answers, in addition to tech leadership preferences, to start searching for a better tool to implement the training they requested. Look for platforms that allow for customized lessons, dedicated implementation and ongoing development support, and gamification. All of these features make it more valuable for your employees, and easier to manage from your end.   4. Collaboration Tools With so many companies choosing to hire remote employees, it’s become imperative to implement better collaboration and communication tools. This is the only way for teams to work together without being in the same office, and luckily, technology makes it easy to facilitate. There are likely a number of collaboration and communication needs between your various employees. Consider onboarding a variety of the following tools to mitigate those woes: Project management: Asana Team communication: Hubgets Organization of tasks and roles: Trello Conferencing: High Five   5. Chatbots Chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to converse with with customers or website visitors. They’re becoming increasingly popular within the small businesses community because they can help you save both time and money. The experts at BusinessTown explain: “Hiring a developer to build a basic bot is remarkably easy and affordable … Chatbots are [also] an affordable means of providing a better customer experience. They don’t take time away from otherwise busy employees and don’t cost much money to use.” With chatbots, your business can run 24/7 without ever having to pay an employee overtime. What’s more, chatbots can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction as their needs and questions are being answered any time, day or night. Check out Impact’s list of chat bots to check out in 2018 to find the best one for your needs.   It’s Time for Tech Initiatives Now’s the time to get started on the projects that make the most sense for your business. Pick the tech initiatives that will help you work faster and more efficiently, while mitigating issues you’re currently experiencing. When your busy season comes around, you’ll be glad you took the time to make these updates now—and your employees will thank you too. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

15 Creative Website Design Ideas

HostGator Blog -

The post 15 Creative Website Design Ideas appeared first on HostGator Blog. 15 Creative Website Design Ideas Have you ever clicked through to a website and immediately clicked away because you didn’t like what you saw? Maybe the website was too cluttered and it made the experience overwhelming. Maybe it looked like a website built in the 90’s and you worried the information would be out of date because the website design was. Like it or not, website design matters. Your website’s the primary face of your brand online and its design plays a key role in how your visitors experience the site. Incorporating smart and creative website design ideas gives you a way to stand out and provide a unique, positive experience for your visitors. If you’ve been considering a web design makeover, but you haven’t decided yet what you really want, these creative website design ideas can provide some inspiration. 1. Make It Interactive. Ideally, you don’t want a visit to your business website to be a passive experience. You want visitors to be engaged with the information on your pages. One way you can pretty much ensure that will happen is by adding interactive elements to your website. This can include anything that gives the visitor the power to change their experience on a page by scrolling and clicking certain parts of it. One good example of this is the Nurture Digital homepage: Instead of a typical menu, their different services are labeled alongside a cute animation. Scrolling over each option changes the animation slightly, and clicking opens up a page within the page that provides more information. Even though the page is different than what people are used to on a homepage, it’s intuitive to figure out and still makes it easy to find all the information a visitor needs.   2. Use Original Illustrations. An interactive site won’t make sense for every brand, but there’s a much simpler step you can take to make sure your website shows a unique brand personality. Hiring a graphic designer to create original illustrations for your website and content can help you develop a unified visual experience for your brand. Illustrations that are in the same style and color scheme across the website will tie all the different pages of your website together visually and tell visitors something about your brand personality without them even realizing it’s happening. This is a web design tactic we use here at HostGator. You can see a unified style between the images used on our homepage, our product pages, and our blog. Each one is relevant to the context on the page, but also fits in with the larger visual whole of the site. 3. Use Animation. While it’s a bit more difficult (and costly) to achieve, animation can be another alluring way to create a memorable website experience. Adding some movement to the image on the page can draw people’s eyes and make them more interested in what they’re seeing. The Rollpark website uses a mix of animation that’s constant when you’re on the page and some that’s triggered by scrolling. In both cases, it adds something visually arresting to your experience of the page while helping draw attention to the messaging the brand wants to get across. You do want to be careful if you choose to use animation on your website that it supports the larger message you’re trying to communicate to visitors, rather than serving as a distraction away from it.   4. Incorporate Product Photos. Let’s be honest, product photography often isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting. But it can be. And if you take an approach to your product photography that makes it more artsy or attractive, you could make photos of your product the center of your web design. People Footwear does a good job of this. By positioning their shoes in visually aesthetic and creative ways, they create images that both serve as good backgrounds for their homepage and communicate something about the products – and not just how they look, you can tell right away from the images that they’re good for activities like walking and tennis.   5. Use a Unique Font. Most of us that aren’t web designers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fonts, but they have an effect on how we interact with different websites we visit. Choosing a unique font is a small way you can add some additional personality to your website and create a design experience that feels original. There are a lot of resources online for finding new fonts and if you want to mix things up by using different fonts on one page, Font Combinations is a useful tool for helping you pick out fonts that look good together. Caava Design uses a mix of different fonts to create a visually compelling homepage that tells you something about their style as a brand and as designers. The design all works together naturally enough that you might not notice the different fonts if you’re not looking for it, but once you notice you can see how well they all work off each other. 6. Make Your Content the Star. If you’re putting a lot of work into creating high-quality content, then you want people to find it. One option for making your content more visible is to build your website around it. Content-centric websites, sometimes called content hubs, put your valuable content front and center. They’re designed to make sure people easily notice the content options they’re most interested in. Websites that are built to center content make the most sense for media companies that have a business model based on content or for brands that want to give high priority to their content marketing programs. Makeup.com from L’oréal falls into the latter category. The entire website is focused on drawing attention to the content the brand has created around makeup subjects. People can also find the company’s products by scrolling down some, but they’re not the main focus of the website. The website clearly follows the content marketing principle of providing value first and promoting products later. 7. Leave Visitors Wanting More. Sometimes less is more when it comes to great web design. If you can keep your main landing page simple but intriguing, it can make your visitors want to keep scrolling or clicking to figure out what the site is all about. The restaurant Maaemo uses this principle. At first, the only thing you see on the website is the name (in interesting font, see tip #5) with a beautiful moving landscape in the background. The only clue at this point as to what the site is for is the “Book a table” in the top left corner.   You have to scroll down to learn that the website is for a restaurant that specializes in using natural, local produce as a way to help people better understand the local landscape and culture through food (which makes the initial image relevant to the brand’s positioning). It’s beautiful and interesting enough to catch your attention from the first moment, but it makes you do just a little but of work to engage with the website and learn more.   8. Dare to Be Colorful. While a minimalist style can be just right for some brands, for others your personality will be better represented by a burst of color. Wistia’s website is full of vibrant colors, which makes perfect sense for an artsy brand that presents a playful personality. You don’t have to limit yourself to a basic color scheme that just uses a small part of the color palette, as long as you choose your colors wisely so they all look good together, you can make your website stand out and make its mark by using vibrant colors.   9. Use (Silent) Video. To start, let me be very clear that I don’t mean using loud autoplay videos. That creates a bad user experience and will inspire many visitors to quickly x out of the window and find another site to visit instead. But you can use silent video as a way to make the background image on your website do more by showing more. Mediaboom does this by having a video in the background of their homepage that shows people working and browsing the web. It’s subtle enough not to distract from the positioning or CTA on the page in text (the most important font and CTA button are in yellow, while the video’s in black and white), but it does some extra work to humanize the brand and provide visual information about what the business does. 10. Make Your CTA Bold. A lot of the web design ideas on this list are about providing an experience that’s visually interesting or unique. But it’s important that whatever else you do with your website’s design, you also make sure it does the main job you need it to: communicating what your brand is and what makes it special. For that reason, you should make sure that your web design centers your main positioning. You want everyone that comes to your website to quickly learn what makes your business valuable. Freshbooks does a pretty good job of this on their homepage. The first thing you notice when you visit is the big blue writing that tells you they provide “Small Business Accounting Software that Makes Billing Painless.” You know what their product is, who it’s for, and why people should use it. 11. Use Parallax Scrolling. Parallax scrolling is when the website changes as you scroll down. Sometimes it’s the background that changes and sometimes your scrolling triggers animations. Either way, it makes for a memorable experience that gives the visitor a lot to look at as they navigate the page. The Make Your Money Matter site uses parallax scrolling to let you control the pace of an animated story that makes the case for choosing credit unions over banks. It’s an intuitive and entertaining way to take people through an argument that might have sounded dry and boring if delivered in another way. 13. Make Your Navigation Fun. Remember the “choose your own adventure” books you read as a kid? Getting to pick where the story went next was exciting. You can design your website to provide your visitor a similar experience by letting them pick the version of your website they want to see as they go. This can be as simple as letting them choose which persona they fall into before delivering up the correct version of the website for them. Or it can be something more fun like the “choose your own adventure” experience provided by Lower Junction. The site lets you choose between options like “Follow the Smell of Java” or take a “Tour of Moca.” Each option takes you on a different path of learning about the Lower Junction community in Toronto. It’s an innovative way to introduce people to an apartment community.   13. Use Gamification. While this option won’t be a fit for every type of website, in some cases incorporating gamification into the design of your website can be a smart way to get your visitors more engaged and drive the kind of actions you want them to take. Gamification involves providing a system of rewards in exchange for the actions you want your visitors to take – like in a video game. For example, you could devise a points system that adds up to discounts or upgrades. Dropbox uses gamification to encourage users to start using the program more actively, and to share the program with other friends. In exchange, users get more space for free rather than having to pay to upgrade. Gamification plays on the human desire for competition – even if it’s not against someone else. Feeling like you’re earning new levels and winning feels good. If you can create that feeling, you can get people to take action.   14. Pack More In With Mouseover Text. We’ve established that clutter is a bad thing on a webpage, but sometimes you have a lot to say. Figuring out how to get all the most important points onto the page without making the page look too crowded is a challenge. One handy design feature you can use to solve this issue is mouseover text. Stink Studio provides a collection of images with basic textual information over them on their homepage, but when you scroll over each, you get more detail on what you’ll see if you click. That allows them to keep the website more visual, while still saying everything they need to.   15. Provide a Virtual Tour. If your business has a physical location you want to give visitors a taste of, you can use a 360 virtual tour to provide a feel for what a visit will be like. Even if you don’t have a storefront, it can be a way to humanize your brand and staff for your visitors by bringing them into the headquarters where you work every day. Virtual tours are a neat way to allow visitors a new way to interact with your brand and get more out of visiting your website. Agora Gallery uses virtual tours to give website visitors a view of the art that’s likely to entice them to want to see it in person. For someone on the fence about making a visit, a glimpse of what they’ll see when they get there could be enough to tip them toward coming in.   What’s the Right Design for Your Website? Providing a unique or cool experience is nice, but it should never be at the expense of your site being easy to navigate and clearly communicating what you do. Balance creativity with function. Whatever creative web design ideas, or website builder tools you decide to use, make sure you always make it clear what your business does, why visitors should care about your brand and products, and what you want them to do next. If you know you want to take your website design to the next level, but you don’t really know how to make that happen, HostGator’s web design services could be the solution you’re looking for. We can help you put together a website that’s optimized for search, looks great on mobile, and represents your brand effectively. Get in touch to learn more. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Bring Your Conversations to Life with New Updates in LinkedIn Messaging

LinkedIn Official Blog -

We know you use LinkedIn Messaging to have a variety of professional conversations, whether it’s chatting with a teammate about work, discussing a job opportunity with a recruiter, asking a mutual connection for career advice, or sharing ideas with someone in your industry. These conversations can take a number of formats -- some more formal, others more chat-like in real-time, or in a group. To help make it easier for you to communicate the way you want, when you want, we’ve made some updates... .

15 Productivity Boosting Tactics For Your Workplace

Pickaweb Blog -

Productivity—it’s much sought after in the business world. But with our hectic working lives in full flow, how can you go about your day more efficiently? To help you along, here are 20 productivity-boosting tips you might have missed out on. #1 Limit your time in meetings Software development innovator Atlassian produced a unique infographic to The post 15 Productivity Boosting Tactics For Your Workplace appeared first on Pickaweb.

Securing U.S. Democracy: Athenian Project Update

CloudFlare Blog -

Last December, Cloudflare announced the Athenian Project to help protect U.S. state and local election websites from cyber attack. Since then, the need to protect our electoral systems has become increasingly urgent. As described by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the “digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.” Just last week, we learned new details about how state election systems were targeted for cyberattack during the 2016 election. The U.S. government’s indictment of twelve Russian military intelligence officers describes the scanning of state election-related websites for vulnerabilities and theft of personal information related to approximately 500,000 voters. This direct attack on the U.S. election systems using common Internet vulnerabilities reinforces the need to ensure democratic institutions are protected from attack in the future. The Athenian Project is Cloudflare’s attempt to do our part to secure our democracy. Engaging with Elections Officials Since announcing the Athenian Project, we’ve talked to state, county, and municipal officials around the country about protecting their election and voter registration websites. Today, we’re proud to report that we have Athenian Project participants in 19 states, and are in talks with many more. We have also strategized with civil society organizations, government associations, and federal government officials who share the goal of ensuring state and local officials have the tools they need to protect their institutions from cyberattack. Working with state and local election officials has given us new appreciation for the dedication of those who serve as election officials, and how difficult it can be for those officials to identify and get the resources they need. Local election officials — like ordinary voters — are the foundation of democracy. They guard the infrastructure of our constitutional system. Many officials juggle multiple roles within local government. They may manage multiple election websites, with limited information technology staff. Yet they know that their community, and sometimes the entire country, is relying on them to protect election integrity from countless global threats against it. The Athenian Project is about giving these dedicated professionals the tools they need to fight back and secure their systems. A county Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, who is responsible for a number of election-related websites, told us that election officials worry about drawing attention to themselves, for fear they may be targeted for attack. Although cybersecurity is only one of the many responsibilities on her plate, this official is determined protect the county, using all the resources at her disposal. But without dedicated information technology staff, she has had difficulty identifying how best to protect county infrastructure. Cloudflare can help, with both tools and know how. Benefits of Cloudflare services Given the current threats, we think it’s important to provide more details about what our services do, and how they can help election officials. We’ve understood since the beginning that election websites would benefit from Cloudflare’s security features, including our DDoS mitigation, Web Application Firewall (WAF), IP reputation database, and ability to block traffic by country or IP address. In fact, reports of DDoS attacks on state and local government websites often get the most coverage because the impact — loss of service to the site — is visible to the public. Until our conversations, however, we did not fully appreciate how our services could solve other common problems for state and local government officials. For election officials, the last day of voter registration and election day are often nerve-wracking events. Their websites can see more traffic in an hour than they’ve seen all year. For example, when the Special Election in Alabama in 2017 drew traffic from around the country, Alabama needed a distributed network and a CDN to ensure that the nearly 5 million Alabamians and everyone else in the U.S. could follow along. Cloudflare’s other features can also help state and local election websites. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence summary of the 2016 election hacking attempts concluded that the majority of malicious access attempts on voting-related websites were perpetrated using SQL injection. Cloudflare’s WAF protects against SQL injection, as well as other forms of attack. Recently, one of the states whose election websites are part of the Athenian Project was attacked and two non-election related websites were defaced. Website defacement occurs when someone who is not authorized to make website changes alters the content on the site, often changing the home page to display the hacker’s logo or other material. Although the state’s election websites saw a 100-fold increase in threat traffic, our WAF helped prevent a similar defacement on those sites. For election websites that are not already running on HTTPS, Cloudflare can also simplify the process of transitioning to use of SSL. With Google Chrome’s new initiative to mark non-HTTPS sites as insecure, potential voters visiting non-encrypted voter registration websites will be warned not to enter sensitive information on the site “because it could be stolen by attackers.” That is not the message officials want to send to a public nervous about cyberattacks on election infrastructure. Adding a security certificate can be a daunting task for local officials without IT resources, but for Athenian Project participants, it’s available at the click of a button. Athenian Project participants who need help with certificate management are given dedicated, auto-renewed certificates to improve the security of their sites. Cloudflare page rules can then direct all traffic to the HTTPS site. Lessons learned and new tools We’ve also tailored the Athenian Project to better address the needs of those we are serving. So what have we done? More tools: We wanted to provide more tools for those who want to learn about and set up our service. We’ve therefore revamped our website to be more intuitive to navigate and to provide more information. We’ve created a new, interactive guide discussing website protection and a short video sharing the experience of current Athenian Project participants. How-to videos: There are videos to not only walk new participants through creating an account and transitioning their DNS servers, but also to provide best practices so that new participants can identify and turn on important features. Getting Started Best Practices Support help: We have found that state and local election officials often have challenges at the onboarding stage that are best addressed through personal attention. We’ve therefore added support features — including Athenian-specific support — to increase the personal interaction we have with officials and to provide them an opportunity to describe their own situation and needs. Set up flexibility: We’ve learned to be flexible with how we set up our service. While some counties were eager to leverage as much of the service as possible, including using full DNS delegation and dedicated certificates, others preferred to pick and choose between options. Depending on the circumstances for a given jurisdiction, we customize protection so they can use Cloudflare without needing to change the IT system for the whole state or county. Athenian Project-specific terms of service: To address common government contracting restrictions, we’ve drafted an Athenian Project-specific terms of service. We hope these new details will make it even easier for election officials to get access to tools that can help them fulfill their critical responsibility to protect our elections. What’s next In November, every state and district in the country will hold congressional elections. Election officials — and all of us — want to make sure that voter information remains secure and that websites stay online as voters seek out information on polling places and voting requirements, and anxiously refresh results pages on election night. The entire American experiment is built on a simple act: a vote. To work as designed, citizens must trust the electoral system, its strength, integrity, and the people who protect it. Cloudflare is proud to support local officials on the front lines of election security. And we, like election officials, know that building a resilient system requires long-term commitment. We are committed to continuing to do our part to keep U.S. election websites secure in this election and beyond. If you would like more information about the Athenian Project, please visit our website cloudflare.com/athenian.

Eight Plugins Every New WooCommerce User Should Know About

Nexcess Blog -

One of the things we admire most about WooCommerce is its rich out-of-the-box functionality. A new eCommerce retailer can start selling in next to no time. They can focus on adding products and configuring their store without needing to install an array of extensions to add essential features. But including every possible feature would result… Continue reading →

Rackspace Drives Digital Transformation for Delmar International Inc.

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

SAN ANTONIO – July 19, 2018 – Rackspace today announced a strategic agreement with Delmar International Inc., a global leader in customs brokerage, freight forwarding warehousing, distribution and supply chain management solutions. Rackspace is focused on delivering true transformation as a service across applications, data, security and infrastructure. The company will spearhead Delmar’s digital transformation […] The post Rackspace Drives Digital Transformation for Delmar International Inc. appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

Chasing Those Elusive Cloud Cost Savings

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

I’ve worked in federal IT for 10 years, and enterprise IT for nearly 20. In that time, IT has always been expensive; therefore, finding value has always been critical. But a strange thing happened when cloud became mainstream: cost savings became the de facto justification and impetus for cloud adoption. This is odd and ironic […] The post Chasing Those Elusive Cloud Cost Savings appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

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