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How to Create a Restaurant Website (In 5 Steps)

Running a restaurant can be both exciting and challenging. It also means you might not have a lot of time to put towards creating an online presence for your establishment. With lots of options for creating social media accounts and websites, we understand that it can be challenging to pick the right approach. Fortunately, Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress can make it easier to combine all of your options into one beautifully-designed online space. For example, WordPress plugins and themes — think website templates — give you the flexibility to incorporate social media accounts and menus on your site, while not draining your energy and resources in the process. In this article, we’ll cover five steps for creating a restaurant website with WordPress. We’ll also discuss why WordPress is the best option, and how website builder tools created for the platform can take your site to the next level. Let’s jump right in! Make a Reservation for WordPress HostingOur automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on dining experiences, not website details.Check Out Plans Why You Should Consider WordPress for Your Restaurant Website Small business owners can benefit from launching their online presence with a social media platform or restaurant app, as there are many widely-available and free options. There is no denying that social media is vital to your marketing strategy but going with a third-party platform can have downsides as well. Three critical factors to think about when deciding whether to create a dedicated website for your restaurant include: Return on Investment (ROI). While websites can be pricey, there are plans available for a broad spectrum of budgets. Once you invest the initial time required to set up a fully-functional website, it can be less of a time drain than social media in the long run. Functionality and Control. You’ll want to weigh the functionality you need against the features social media platforms have to offer. While you can usually string together multiple applications, a website is more likely to provide the functionality you’ll need to create a compelling experience. Plus, you won’t be hemmed in by a third-party design; you’ll get complete control of the look and feel of your website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Social profiles do show up in search engines, but they are a more powerful tool when used to promote content from your website. Google can’t determine the authority of a social profile, but linking back to your site can increase your overall search rankings. That’s why we recommend WordPress as the best CMS and website platform for your needs. Not only is it the most widely-used CMS, but it’s also a free and open-source platform. This means that the variety and diversity of plugin and theme options are nearly endless (which we’ll demonstrate shortly). WordPress also offers restaurant owners a lot of flexibility over who can use the website to help maintain the business’ public-facing experience. You can adjust user roles to fit your staffing structure, for example, or create content for future events and menu changes. With this platform, the sky’s the limit. How to Create Your Restaurant Website With WordPress (In 5 Steps) The best part is that getting started with WordPress is pretty simple. Often, you can install WordPress with just one click through your web host and be ready to welcome website visitors the same day. In the next few sections, we’re going to look at five essential steps to help you get your restaurant site online. Step 1: Choose Your Domain Name and Web Host Choosing a web host is the first crucial step in getting your restaurant website up and running. Your host is where all your site’s data, files, and media will be stored and maintained. There are a few things to consider when choosing your host, however. You’ll want to compare what each provider is offering with what you think you’ll need over the first year of running your site. This includes: Security. A website crash on a Friday night can mean a loss of business if your customers expect to see your new menu each week. Reviewing potential web hosts to understand the security features they offer is key to keeping your site up and running. Backup and restoration options are a good place to start. Software. If you need to get your restaurant site online fast, partnering with a host that offers easy software options can be a big help. Be sure to find out whether your host offers one-click options for additional software or provides features for speed and optimization. Support. Web hosts typically offer increasing levels of support as you upgrade to higher-tier plans. You’ll want to decide if you need 24/7 expert support or if you can wait for a ticket to be answered. Extras. You might find it hard to choose between several high-quality web hosts. If that’s the case, you can take a close look at what extras each host offers. If you know you could benefit from premium themes, pre-installed eCommerce options, or site builders, for example, reviewing these options might be a good way to break a tie. No matter what type of hosting you ultimately decide you need, here at DreamHost we offer a wide range of WordPress plans. Once you have a host picked out, you get to decide on a name for your new website. Some best practices might be helpful in this process. While a .com is still the most recognized and respected top-level domain out there, there are plenty of other options. The most important thing is to make sure your domain is short and memorable. Another factor to keep in mind is the extra goodies that might come with your hosting plan. Some hosts offer free add-ons, for example. Here at DreamHost, we’re excited to be able to provide access to a handy site builder tool. To get started, you’ll need to select “WP Website Builder” as an option during checkout of your DreamHost plan purchase. Then, we’ll automatically install WordPress and premium website builder plugins for WordPress — Inspirations and Page & Post Builder — built by our friends at BoldGrid. Step 2: Install a Dedicated Restaurant Theme Once you choose a host and set up your site at its domain name, you can start thinking about website design. WP Website Builder brings easy drag-and-drop page building to your WordPress site, along with plenty of theme options to choose from. To select one, you’ll navigate to the Inspirations menu. There, you can easily select a new theme by clicking on Start Over with New Inspiration. If you’re new to WordPress, this is the first page you’ll see when you visit your dashboard. You’ll then be led through several steps that will get you started with your new theme. First, you’ll select the category of themes you want to browse. We’ll pick Restaurant, naturally. You’ll see that there are many options to choose from. For this demonstration, we’ll try out the Florentine theme. After you select your theme, the next page will provide some options for testing its responsiveness on various screen sizes. You can also select how many pre-set pages you want to start with. We’ve chosen the Kitchen Sink option with blog functionality, so we can experiment with everything. Once you make your changes here, you’ll click on the Next button. Your final step in the setup process will be to fill out some optional but helpful information. This is found in the Essentials tab. You can edit this information later, but it will be used throughout your website to pre-populate your contact and social media information. Be sure to select Finish and Install when you’re done. After that, WP Website Builder will automatically install additional plugins to help support the theme you chose. Once that’s complete, you can add your restaurant logo and really start cooking. Related: Here’s Why Responsive Design is a Must for Small Business Owners Step 3: Select Plugins to Expand Your Site’s Feature Set While WP Website Builder includes several plugins that offer enhanced functionality for creating your restaurant site, you might want to explore a few other tools as well. Plugins, true to their name, plug right into your WordPress site and theme to extend their existing options. Whether you plan on offering new menu items every week, only on holidays, or whenever you feel like it, plugins can help you manage those changes. Additionally, other plugins can help you develop an online reservation system or organize in-house events. One plugin to check out is Five Star Restaurant Reservations. This solution is packed with features to help you manage all aspects of taking online reservations and table bookings. You can accept, reject, or block reservations as needed. Additionally, you can set up specific user roles for your staff and send notifications to customers. Step 4: Create Engaging Content Once you have your design in place, you’ll want to solidify the content strategy for your restaurant. Whether you choose to feature blog content, exciting menus, or just pictures of your tasty-looking food, WordPress has you covered. Even the rotisserie giant, Boston Market, uses WordPress for its restaurant website. There are several ways to do this, including various options within the WordPress Edit Post area. Additionally, you can check out a plugin like WP Scheduled Posts. This tool can help you create an editorial calendar to keep your blog fresh and up-to-date. That way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to post a timely article or showcasing outdated content. Once you establish your approach to content, you might want to turn to social media channels to spread the news about your new website. Related: 7 Steps to Identify a Target Audience for Your Online Business Step 5: Build an Email List Building up a loyal clientele can take some time. Creating the opportunity for potential customers to sign up to an email list can be a smart strategy. Using and maintaining an email list for your restaurant gives you a direct link to your customers. You can send menu announcements, hours of operation updates, and discount offers. There are a lot of great marketing tools available. MailChimp is a popular email newsletter and list management service. You’ll need to create a free account, and then there’s a plugin available that can connect your site up to this service instantly. With MailChimp, you can fully integrate your WordPress site with your email marketing campaigns. That way, you can bring in as many new patrons as possible. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up Growing and Promoting Your Restaurant Website At this point, your site is all set up. So, how do you get the word out about it? Here’s where your WordPress site and social media can combine to create a powerful team. There are several key items to keep in mind that can help you promote your new website on social media, including: Micro-influencers. This might be easier if your business operates in a more metropolitan area. Social media influencers can promote your site for you, and expose it to a new audience. Additionally, inviting food bloggers to your restaurant can also pay off. Reviews. Opening up review options online and collecting testimonials from social media comments or in-restaurant surveys is one of the best techniques available to you. Posting these reviews to your website can be an effective marketing tool. Social media management apps. Keeping track of several social media accounts can be a time sink. Fortunately, there are plenty of management techniques and applications for social media that can help. We recommend checking out Hootsuite first, as it connects to all the major social media channels. Tapping into the power of word-of-mouth marketing through online social channels, hashtags, and lots of linking back to your new website may seem daunting at first, but should pay off in the long run. The Last Bite The restaurant business can be competitive. Along with tasty food and creative dishes, customers are looking for an experience that often goes beyond the time they spend in your physical establishment. Creating a standout restaurant website design can help them feel more connected to your business and keep them coming back for more. Here at DreamHost, we want you to be able to put your energy into making delicious meals, and not worry about whether your website maintenance and support is taken care of. That’s why we offer complete WordPress hosting solutions, now served with a side of our premium website builder tools, so you can focus on making Instagram-worthy food! The post How to Create a Restaurant Website (In 5 Steps) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Master Your Website Launch With This 18-Item Checklist

Unveiling a new website can be an exciting and nerve-racking time. Sometimes it might feel like you’ve forgotten a crucial element, but you won’t always know until someone complains. Additionally, there are a lot of pages and items you’ll need to include, so it can be hard to know where to start. Not to worry — we’re here to help! Creating a comprehensive checklist of key pages and technical items to review before you launch your website can be a helpful time-saver. Scanning down a pre-flight checklist is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t overlook anything important. In this article, we’ll run through 18 essentials that you need to put on your website launch checklist. Let’s start from the top! Launch Your Website with DreamHostOur automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on creating a great website.Check Out Plans 1. Finalize Your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy A privacy policy is required by law if you’re collecting any kind of personal data. This policy spells out exactly how any information (emails, contact information, and more) will be used. Terms of Service (TOS) statements are not legally mandatory in most cases, but they can still be valuable. Your TOS states the ground rules for visitors who want to use your site. 2. Create a “Contact Us” Page Contact pages might seem straightforward, but there is room for creativity. Buzzworthy Studio has an excellent example of a bold and effective contact page. Your contact page can be a valuable way to reaffirm your brand. Plus, it helps visitors get in touch and find answers to their questions. 3. Set Your Site to Back Up Regularly If your website crashes or is hacked, or if you install a plugin that causes a problem, having your files backed up regularly and automatically is a lifesaver. There are many ways to approach this task, but one surefire way to keep things running smoothly is by using a managed host for your site. That way, your provider can take care of restoring backups and automatically archiving them for you. 4. Configure Your 404 Page A 404 page is what will display when an error occurs on your website. Designing fun and on-brand error pages can help you retain visitors who would have otherwise left once they encountered an error. Magnt, for example, managed to turn an error into a marketing opportunity. This clever error page displays the company’s skills for humor and design. Creating this kind of page prompts visitors to learn more about your business, rather than leaving in frustration. 5. Establish a Comprehensive Site Map Sitemaps play a vital role in how search engines read and index your pages. While a sitemap won’t directly improve your rankings, it can help to ensure that your site is indexed properly. If you use WordPress, there are plugins available to help you generate and manage sitemaps. Google also has an established process for submitting your sitemap directly. Related: 13 Simple Ways to Boost Search Engine Optimization on Your WordPress Website 6. Complete Your “About Us” Information Keeping your About Us information up-to-date and well-organized is essential. In fact, 94% of first impressions online are design-related. That’s why the Refinery29 About Us page is a great example of concise web design. Visitors are likely to check your About Us page or section in order to vet your business. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure it contains all the information they need and looks professional as well. 7. Set Up Your Permalink Structure Permalinks are the permanent URLs to your posts and pages, as well as to your category and tag archives. Strategically creating your permalinks can help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s also important to note that deciding to change your permalink structure after you’ve created content can result in a lot of work. For that reason, it’s best to decide on a structure you’re happy with upfront. 8. Choose a Web Host With Fast and Reliable Servers Your site’s hosting server is a determining factor for how fast its pages will load. Consequently, it’s a pretty significant decision. Here at DreamHost, we offer several options for hosting your website. A fast and reliable managed hosting plan means the website owner can focus on their business and website content. Leave the server management to us — we live for this stuff! 9. Add Meta Titles and Descriptions to Your Content Metadata, such as meta descriptions and title tags, can help you tell potential visitors what kind of content to expect when they find your website’s pages in search engines. You can think of this data as a summary that helps people decide if a page is valuable to them. A meta description is typically limited to two lines of text, so choosing the right keywords is critical. However, what matters most when you’re launching a website is that each post and page has its own meta title and description. Related: The Best Search Engine Optimization Tools for 2019 10. Optimize Image Sizes Optimizing your site’s images not only improves performance but can improve the user experience for those using mobile devices to view your site. As a consequence, it can also benefit your rankings on search engines. You can use a tool like Tiny PNG to reduce the size of your image files. There are also many plugin options for optimizing your images, either one at a time or in bulk. 11. Turn on Caching for Your Website Caching is when a web browser stores a static version of your website, and loads that copy for the visitor. This results in a faster loading speed than if the site’s data had to be transferred each time anew. If you want to check your site speed, start with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It’s a good idea to check with your web host, to see if it offers built-in caching options. Otherwise, you’ll want to look into plugins or other caching solutions. Related: Optimizing Your Website for Speed Tutorial 12. Set Alt Text for Your Images Setting alt text for all the images on your website benefits both its accessibility and SEO. Alt text can typically be added in the same menu you use to edit your images. This text will help visitors understand what an image is if it doesn’t load properly. Additionally, it will make it easier for those using screen readers to make sense of your content. If you’re looking for more ways to boost your search performance, check out Google’s Search Console. This tool will help you create reports that measure your traffic so you can improve how your site’s pages perform in search engines’ rankings. 13. Review Responsiveness on Mobile Platforms Whether you’re writing a blog post or operating a Shopify store, it’s vital that your site looks good and performs well on devices of all sizes. One easy way to check your website’s mobile responsiveness is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Fortunately, most website builders include built-in options for testing mobile responsiveness. Still, there is no doubting the importance of designing with an eye toward mobile use. 14. Clean Up Your Plugins List When you’re launching a website with WordPress, managing your plugins is a must. You may have tried out several different solutions during your development and building process, which can result in unused items in your plugin list. There are literally thousands of free and premium plugins at your disposal, many of which we’ve previously recommended: Plugins That Topped the Charts in 2018 Plugins to Keep Your WordPress Site Safe Plugins to Drive More Conversions on Your Website Plugins for Improving Your Workflow Plugins to Maximize Lead Generation Before you launch your site, you’ll want to remove all unused plugins to shore up site security, speed, and functionality. There are a few essentials that we’d recommend you keep, though: Jetpack, Akismet Anti-Spam, and the Yoast plugin for SEO. 15. Update All Your Website Software Keeping every part of your website up to date is vital. Not only does each software update or upgrade help keep your site secure, but newer versions can boost its performance as well. Fortunately, software updates can be a “set it and forget it” process. That way, you can automatically keep on top of your plugins and other software from the very beginning. 16. Double-Check Your Site’s Security License Site security is something we can’t stress enough. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate tells your visitors that all data exchanged between their browsers and your site will go through a secure connection. There are several ways to acquire an SSL certificate. You can check with your web host to see if it provides one, or you can purchase a certificate through a third-party service. 17. Add Analytics Tracking to Your Site Once your website is up and running, you’ll need a way to measure how well it performs. That’s why it pays to set up an analytics tracking solution before even launching your site. There are many excellent solutions out there, although Google Analytics is a strong choice for beginners. No matter what tool you use, make sure you have an easy way to keep an eye on important numbers, such as your daily visits and page views. 18. Connect Your Social Media Accounts Promoting your site on social media can be vital to reaching your target audience. Providing icons so your visitors can easily find your social media pages is one of the best ways to do that. Plugins such as Jetpack can also help you automate social sharing. That way, this task will take up as little of your time as possible. Your Website Launch Checklist Launching your website can involve a lot of work, and many different kinds of tasks. Checklists are one way to help your team stay on track and cover all the bases before revealing your masterpiece to the public. To provide a seamless first experience to your website’s visitors, you’ll want to keep in mind a few key items on your website launch checklist. For instance, you can write strong meta descriptions, optimize your images for increased site speed, and take advantage of an SSL certificate. Here at DreamHost, we want you to be able to focus on the task at hand, and not worry about whether your website maintenance is taken care of. That’s why we offer complete hosting solutions with reliable support, so you can focus on enjoying your new site! The post Master Your Website Launch With This 18-Item Checklist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Start Your Own Food Blog: An Expert Guide

Admit it — you know your way around the kitchen. Whether you’re wielding a whisk, perfecting paella, or creating the next culinary chef-d’oeuvre, it’s clear: Food is your gift, talent, and passion. And if you’re ready to take your compliments-to-the-chef recipes online, it’s time to set up your own blog. But where to start? Don’t get your garlic in a knot. We’ve got you covered. In this handy food blogging guide, we provide all the technical know-how you need to get your own food blog up and running, plus first-class advice from experts in the blogging biz. What’s more, we’ll share the best website builder tools for WordPress and all kinds of resources, so you can start showcasing your culinary chops and drool-worthy photography to bring in some dough. You provide the ingredients, and we’ll make your food blog restaurant-ready. Blog More with Managed WordPress HostingOur automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on creating great content.Check Out Plans Why Start a Food Blog? Food bloggers are some of the most influential people on the internet. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the stats: More and more, people are ditching grandma’s recipe box and seeking food info on the web. It’s estimated that 50% of consumers now use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to learn about food, while another 40% learn from websites, apps, or blogs. A massive 89% of consumers go online for recipes; 79% trust blogs for recipes and food information. Food bloggers are the cool kids on the block, boasting four times as many followers than any other niche. 59% of 25- to 34-year-olds head to the kitchen with either their smartphones or tablets. Consumers are not only consuming food content online — they’re sharing it. Fifty-four percent say they share info and recipes with friends, family, and strangers. Food blogs have rapidly become popular, credible, and sharable ways for talented, passionate (and normal) people to share their passion for food and recipe creation — and to make big $$$. Food bloggers influence consumer food trends and social discussion and are pioneering the modern food experience. Many have even used their taste-ful content to ink cookbook deals, score cooking show hosting gigs, and amass large and loyal followings that share their content globally. So if you’re a dish-developing foodie who wants to own a digital presence while becoming an influential voice in food conversation, there’s potential for you. It’s time to bring your kitchen online. How to Start a Food Blog (8 Steps) Let’s break it down. What do you even need to create a food blog, grow your traffic, and start making money with your recipes? Consult our handy guide below! 1. Determine Your Niche When you’re ready to get busy in the kitchen, what’s your go-to creation? Do you specialize in vegan creations? Excel in gluten-free goodies? Are you the queen of 30-minute Instant Pot meals for busy moms? Whatever you do best — and what you enjoy most — is where you want to start. Finding your niche allows you to distinguish yourself from the millions of other bloggers out there and identify a target audience — which, in turn, helps you understand how to market your content and build a following. Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman discovered her niche and developed a wildly-popular blog following by appealing to down-home, comfort-food eaters. “… blog about what you are passionate about. Don’t start your blog because you want to make money off it. Start your blog because you feel like you have something unique to share with the world. If you truly have the passion and drive, and you are constantly looking for ways to make it better, your blog will eventually succeed and hopefully, turn into a career.” — Tieghan, blogger at Half Baked Harvest 2. Create a Blog Name Time to get those creative juices flowing. What do you want to call your blog? Take time to brainstorm ideas, keeping in mind some typical internet behavior. Your best bet is something memorable and unique, but easy to find (and type) online. It should be related to your niche or help establish your brand. Dana Shultz of The Minimalist Baker distinguishes herself as a food blogger by choosing a blog name that clearly identifies her target audience — cooking enthusiasts who want simple, easy-to-follow recipes. 3. Choose your CMS A content management system, (as the name implies) manages the creation and modification of digital content, making your dream of running a food blog dream a hassle-free reality. As far as CMS options go, we heartily recommend WordPress — and the love is mutual. At DreamHost, we wear our own WordPress-approved badge with pride. This powerhouse blogging platform fuels more than 30% of the internet and can power your blog, too. Related: What Is WordPress? 4. Purchase your Domain Name and Hosting Listen up. Getting a domain and choosing a web host are some of the most crucial decisions you’ll make when you start a blog. Your domain is an essential building block of search engine optimization (SEO), and a good domain name helps you get found online. Domains should match your blog name and can be purchased through a registrar. Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Domain Registration Or better yet: pair the purchase of your domain name with web hosting service. Your hosting plan will provide you with server space to store your files so online browsers can visit your site. WordPress hosting plans through DreamHost combine the best of tech, tools, and service at a budget-friendly price to help make creating your food blog a snap. Plus, DreamHost isn’t just a smart option for all the behind-the-scenes setup. Our customers get access to WP Website Builder an easy-to-use drag-and-drop site builder tool for WordPress that simplifies the process, allowing you to customize without coding and make the perfect food blog fast. *chef’s kiss* With WP Website Builder, we include a suite of premium themes, tools, and plugins — built by our friends at BoldGrid — to help simplify the start-up process and make it easier to edit and manage your website as it grows. Rest easy because you don’t need to start from scratch. Starter content is packed into every beautiful, responsive, and customizable design. 5. Setup To get started, you’ll need to select “WP Website Builder” as an option during your DreamHost purchase. Then, we’ll automatically install WordPress and website builder tools, BoldGrid’s Inspirations and Page and Post Builder, for you.  Once you’re logged into WordPress, you’ll see the Inspirations setup page. Three simple steps? We knew you’d like the sound of that. And it really is that simple! Click Let’s Get Started! to continue. At this stage, you’ll select a theme. You can narrow your options by specific industry-related categories or browse them all to find your perfect starter site. (Hint: There’s even a collection of food-tailored themes under the Restaurant category.) For this guide, we selected the “Hifidel” theme. Related: Tutorial: How to Install a WordPress Child Theme Next, you’ll decide on basic pages and add the functionality you want. You can also view how this theme looks on other devices, like smartphones and tablets. The easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editing paired with design blocks (over 100 options!) helps you build faster and edit easier. It’s simple for beginners, with advanced options for seasoned professionals, making it possible to create the perfect site. Now, you’ll click Next and enter additional details that help populate your website with social media icons and contact info. Then, click Finish and Install. Easy as (your famous cherry) pie, right? Installation is now set up on your WordPress account. From your dashboard, you can continue customizing your website. You’ll want to adjust your site design and add essential elements. For increased functionality, you’ll also want to install useful plugins. We install a handful of valuable plugins, like SEO, Gallery, and Backup, but you should consider additional tools, like plugins for controlling spam or building forms. (There’s even one for recipes!) Be sure to check out our list of the most essential plugins this year. With a form-building plugin, you can set up a simple contact form to help you turn your traffic into an email list — a powerful (and critical) way to market your blog content to readers. Related: How to Create Your First WordPress Plugin (With a Minimal Amount of Coding) 6. Create Content This step is where it gets really gets good. Time to enrich your website with your one-of-a-kind recipes, heartfelt blog posts, and gorgeous food photography. Your food blog isn’t going to do you much good if it’s empty, so prioritize high-quality content. Set up a blogging schedule to continually outfit your blog with fresh, consistent, relevant, and yes, delicious content — and to keep yourself organized. Content is what’s going to draw readers to your site, so make it good and keep it coming. When it comes to content, you should always be cooking up a fresh post (or repurposing an oldie but goodie). Hint: Kate of Cookie + Kate has a bunch of excellent food blogging resources here. “You have to publish high-quality content every single day. Readers hitting your site for the first time should see consistently updated, fresh content, and they should know that if they come back the next day, there will be something new to read. That’s the only way to get people returning to your site several times a day, checking to see if you’ve updated yet. These can’t be throwaway posts, either; everything you publish to your site needs to be a carefully crafted, professionally-photographed piece of content that will either teach or inform. Then, the next day, you need to do it all over again, and be comfortable with pushing the previous day’s work out of the spotlight after just a brief 24 hours.” — Julie, blogger at MealHack 7. Spread the Word Promote your blog by creating content that’s optimized for search engines. Market your content through an email list and social media, such as an Instagram account, Twitter, Facebook, and even a YouTube Channel. You can also consider pay-per-click (PPC) ads. And don’t forget about increasing traffic through SEO improvements (we can help with this — the WordPress website builder has on-page SEO tips built right in!) There are lots of hungry people out there looking for your unique expertise — plan a marketing strategy that helps them find you. “SEO isn’t black magic; it’s about making your quality content findable. It’s important to understand and implement the basics. Here is Google’s SEO starter guide [PDF] and Bake Your Day’s SEO For Food Bloggers Guide.” — Kate, Cookie + Kate 8. Monetize It’s true — your blog posts can make you money. But likely, it will take time and lots of stellar content. So keep producing. Advertising, networking, affiliate marketing programs, and pitching are all ways you can bring in $$ from your blog. Hint: Julie of MealHack has great info on monetizing your blog. Related: 25 Legit Ways You Can Make Money Online “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to make money off your blog, but don’t align yourself with a brand or project that isn’t a good fit. You are the company you keep. Focus on producing your best content and building your audience, and the opportunities will come.” — Kate, blogger at Cookie + Kate Starting a Food Blog: The Last Course For all you foodies looking to share your culinary talents with the world, it’s time to get blogging! We make starting a blog easy. Sign up for WordPress hosting through DreamHost and take advantage of WP Website Builder to enter the food blogging scene with an appetizing (and easy-to-whip-up) site. The post How to Start Your Own Food Blog: An Expert Guide appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Create a Media Kit for Your Website (5 Key Tips)

You’ve built a great website and spent hours crafting content that’s laser-focused on your target audience. Your traffic is great, the site design is impeccable, and the search engine optimization? You’re hitting every keyword, baby. But here’s the unpleasant truth: you can be doing all those things right and still not get the interest from advertisers and media outlets that you want to grow your business. You may be wondering what you can do to turn things around and deliver a comprehensive message to prospects about your services. Adding your business’ key information to your website can be a way to maintain your brand standards while bringing in new advertisers and collaborators. Collecting these details into a “media kit” can help you provide a convenient place for people to find and use them as needed. In this article, we’ll take a look at how media kits coordinate with your other content and why you might want to add one to your site. Along the way, we’ll share some stellar media kit examples. We’ll also go over how to create your own media kit in five easy steps. Whether you’re a blogger, influencer, or entrepreneur, creating a media kit for your website is a must. Let’s get you some press coverage! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan What a Media Kit Typically Provides The terms “press kit” and “media kit” are often used interchangeably. A media kit, however, is more specifically geared towards bringing in advertisers or potential clients. Arguably, a public relations-driven press kit can also bring in advertisers. For this article, we’re going to use the term “media kit,” however, and focus on how it can help you monetize your website, bring in collaborators, and appeal to advertisers. A comprehensive media kit generally includes the following: An introduction. You can use this as an opportunity to present a very targeted message about your business. Alternatively, you can produce an approved bio for anyone to use. Site statistics. There’s no need to be humble here — it’s smart to put your best numbers out in front. For example, you can let everyone know what a great opportunity your site presents due to the volume of traffic it receives. Advertising opportunities. You can use your media kit to spell out precisely what kind of advertising you have available on your site. Your media kit is a good place to outline what you can’t accommodate as well. Audience data. The demographics of your site’s audience might not be right for every advertiser or collaborator. Supplying that information in your media kit can help eliminate any confusion. Let’s look at an online-only media outlet as an example. The popular website, BuzzFeed, has a global audience of over 650 million. It showcases its media kit information in a clean and scrollable format for potential advertisers. The kit clearly displays the most critical information and allows for opportunities to click through and learn more. Alternatively, Catherine Summers is a style blogger with a media kit that ticks off all the best practices boxes. Summers immediately jumps in and addresses why anyone would want to work with her and then lays out all the options. These examples showcase a wide variety of different approaches you might consider for your own media kit. Why You Might Want to Consider Adding a Media Kit to Your Website As we mentioned before, media kits are prime real estate for showcasing the best of what you have to offer. Plus, you can plainly state how interested advertisers or other potential clients can work with you. That said, there are are two main audiences to think about when deciding whether you should create a media kit for your website. They include: Advertisers. If you are hoping to bring in revenue by offering up space on your website, you’ll want to consider crafting your media kit with an appeal to potential advertisers. Highlighting your audience demographics and the number of views they might get on your site are important metrics to consider. Clients. If your primary goal is to bring in new clients or fill out your speaking engagement calendar, there might be other aspects to highlight in your kit as well. For instance, showcasing previous high-profile engagements can heighten your appeal to potential clients. Understanding the primary goal of creating a media kit for your website can help you prioritize your content and focus your efforts. Of course, your media kit might also have a combination of advertiser and client appeal. As we saw in the examples above, being comprehensive with your media kit is definitely a valid approach. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up How to Create a Media Kit for Your Website (5 Key Tips) Now that you have some idea of what a media kit might include, let’s discuss how you can start building your own. In the following sections, we’ll cover five essential steps that will get you on the path to building an attention-grabbing kit. 1. Establish Your Brand When it comes to marketing, brand and brand strategy are vital. Your media kit is one opportunity to really solidify your brand and make sure it’s represented correctly. There are several ways you can help to establish your brand with your media kit. Providing downloadable documents, press releases, images, and logos or graphics is one approach. Offering these can help encourage site visitors to use your products and establish a friendly atmosphere. Visitors will know it’s OK to use the materials, and you control their quality. Another element you might consider including in your media kit is a style guide. This guide may take some investment of time to create but can pay off in the long run. A style guide makes it very clear how your brand can and should be used both on- and offline. 2. Provide Relevant Statistics We mentioned earlier that one element of a media kit to consider is statistics about your site and business. Depending on your level of experience with tracking analytics, this might seem challenging at first. If you’re using a managed web host for your website, you might want to see if it provides easily-accessible statistics. For example, here at DreamHost, all of our hosting accounts include user statistics functionality. This can help you track visitor numbers, traffic to your domain, and even referring URLs. To maximize the benefit of providing your stats, you’ll want to keep in mind who they’re relevant to. In the case of media kits, you’re not really providing these numbers for your readers, but rather for potential advertisers or clients. Therefore, you’ll want to focus on the figures that illustrate the benefits of working with you and your audience. Don’t forget to include follower demographics and engagement data from your social media platforms too! Related: How to Use Google Analytics with WordPress 3. Describe How to Collaborate With You Your media kit is also a place where you can specifically outline what opportunities you are looking for when it comes to collaboration, such as: Affiliate Marketing Opportunities Book Deal Event Appearances Giveaways Guest Posting Podcast Sponsorships Product Reviews Site Ads Social Media Promotions Sponsored Blog Posts Being specific can help increase the number of quality leads you get. For example, if you are primarily looking for guest posting or social media opportunities, outline the specifics in your media kit. The LadyBossBlogger website has an excellent example of how to present your collaboration suggestions and opportunities transparently. Alternatively, you can create forms that allow potential collaborators to give information and outline their inquiries. You’ll also want to consider whether you want to list your prices upfront or encourage prospects to contact you for more details. 4. Share What Others Have to Say About You Testimonials are used in marketing all the time and for good reason. Your media kit can leverage the power of these as well. As a form of word-of-mouth marketing, collecting strong testimonials (or just creating a list of past media coverage) is often a worthwhile investment of time. Whether you’re citing past media mentions from publications or sharing sound bites from social media followers, It’s always advisable to note in your media kit exactly where your testimonials are coming from. You can help build trust through transparency in this way. One useful example to check out is cookbook author Ren Behan’s press site. There, she displays comments and testimonials in a variety of ways. There are several methods for collecting testimonials. You can use online reviews and LinkedIn recommendations, for example. However you decide to obtain them, you’ll want to make sure it is evident in your media kit whether it is acceptable for others (such as reporters) to use them. 5. Provide Your Contact Information It may seem like a simple thing, but providing your contact information is extremely vital. In fact, the contact page is often the most-visited page on any website. You can link to this page in your media kit or simply include contact information and methods within it. Either way, providing multiple contact options is always a smart approach. Some web users prefer forms, while others will just want to know what your email address is. One good example of combining both methods comes from (not surprisingly) a UX designer’s website. The simple approach here makes critical information very clear and gives the visitor options. Your contact information is probably not where you want to implement an online scavenger hunt. Also, it’s essential to always keep this information up-to-date, with all links and forms functioning optimally. Essential Tools and Resources for Building Your Media Kit Now that you’re armed with some great ideas for your media kit, you might be wondering how to create yours. You can do this entirely from scratch, of course. However, there are also quite a few free and premium resources that can make the process easier. These include: Canva. This is an online design tool with beautiful pre-made templates and graphic elements. You can get a free template with limited access or pay to get a variety of upgrades at reasonable prices. Creative Market. An online exchange for creative work, Creative Market is like Etsy for marketing materials. You can commission a custom font, or browse other original work to find the perfect fit for your brand. WordPress. There are many options out there for building websites, but at DreamHost, we’re partial to WordPress. As a free, open-source tool, it offers immense flexibility. Plus, you’ll find many useful plugins for creating portfolios, displaying contact information, and developing contact forms. Ultimately, how you create your media kit is less important than what it includes. So you should feel free to use whatever tools you’re most comfortable with and focus on ensuring that your kit is comprehensive, easy to understand, and user-friendly. Get Those Media Contacts Bloggers, influencers, small business owners — regardless of your focus, you want to solidify your brand, bring in more work, and attract advertisers. For all those goals, a media kit is the key. Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of media kits and shared some industry-standard examples, you should be ready to launch your electronic press kit. Creating a wow-inducing media kit can take time. Here at DreamHost, we want you to be able to focus on the task at hand, and not get sidetracked by website maintenance and troubleshooting. That’s why we offer complete hosting solutions with reliable support, so you can focus on growing your business! The post How to Create a Media Kit for Your Website (5 Key Tips) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Start a Fitness Blog (In 6 Steps)

Fitness is one niche that never seems to go out of style. Of course, that also means it’s a niche that’s full of competition. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, personal trainer, or small business owner with a focus on health and wellness, you’ll need to find a way to stand out. One of the best ways to do that is by starting a fitness blog. Fortunately, there are tools that can help cut down on the time it takes to reach that goal. Building a dynamic fitness website with WordPress can be a simple process, especially when you start with a fitness-friendly theme and website builder tools created just for WordPress. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of starting a fitness blog. We’ll detail what you’ll need to get it off the ground, discuss promoting your new website, and then explain how you can make money blogging. If you’re ready, pull on your swim cap, grab your goggles, and let’s dive into this topic! Blog More with Managed WordPress HostingOur automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on creating great content.Check Out Plans Why You Might Want to Start Your Own Fitness Blog Whether you work full-time in the fitness industry or simply have a related hobby, you likely understand the dedication it takes to stay in top form. Fortunately, it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to turn your fitness routines and weight loss advice into an article for a blog. Fitness is big business in the United States. The fitness and gym market has experienced significant gains over the past five years. This growth can be attributed mostly to both increased health consciousness and higher disposable incomes. In short, consumers are looking to spend money with fitness professionals. Consequently, it’s not just gyms that have benefited. A digital fitness boom has also opened doors for online fitness content as well. Kicking off your own fitness website can help you stay motivated towards your fitness goals. Plus, incorporating your passions into a business or a blog with a loyal audience is an excellent way to establish yourself as an authority in the niche. If you’re a personal trainer, your website can also function as an online portfolio to help you attract and retain clients. How to Start a Fitness Blog (In 6 Steps) The good news? Becoming a fitness blogger is relatively easy when you have the right tools! Before you start building your site, you might want to clearly establish which niche you’ll focus on, since the fitness industry is pretty diverse. The other element to consider before moving forward is how you’ll name your site. One of the best ways to stand out is with a memorable domain name. While choosing a .com is pretty standard, there are quite a few new Top-Level Domains (TLDs) available that might be just right for your fitness-related site. With those basics out of the way, you’re ready to start building your blog! 1. Decide Which Blogging Platform to Use Here at DreamHost, we aren’t shy about our affection for WordPress. As a Content Management System (CMS), it’s the top choice for 35% of the internet. Since WordPress is so popular, one of its benefits is a robust and supportive community of users who are willing to help you out. Another reason we like WordPress is that it’s easy to get started with. You can get up and blogging with WordPress in one click, depending on the host you choose. 2. Choose a Quality Hosting Service Choosing a hosting provider for your fitness website might seem overwhelming at first. However, there are a few things to keep in mind as you shop that should help. A key deciding factor will be whether you plan on scaling up an e-commerce website or if you intend to keep things simple and focus just on blogging. Regardless of your strategy, there are some significant features you’ll want to keep in mind when researching a host. These include: Security. You’ll want to thoroughly review what your web host offers in terms of protection from viruses and hacks. Look for information about security certificates, daily backups, and the process for restoring a damaged site. Software. Not all hosts are created equal. If you need more software to help you on your way, make sure your host has what you want. Are there optimization features or software options that will boost your site’s speed? Support. Being able to get in touch with technical support night or day might be a vital feature for you to have. If your fitness website really can’t afford any downtime, getting a full understanding of the support that comes with your hosting plan is essential. Extras. If you’re really on the fence about what host to go with, check whether it has any extra features that can help you decide. Some hosts come with built-in themes, design tools, staging sites, or site builders. No matter what type of hosting you ultimately decide you need, here at DreamHost we offer a wide range of WordPress plans. Once you’ve decided on a host, you’ll just need to purchase a domain name and select a hosting package (note that some hosting plans include a free domain with purchase). If you’re starting out with a simple personal blog, shared hosting should give you what you need. You can always upgrade your plan if you need to later on. Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Domain Name Registration 3. Pick a Fitness-Friendly Theme As we mentioned earlier, the fitness industry is booming. With that in mind, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your website’s theme so you can stand out in the crowded marketplace. Choosing a fitness-friendly theme for your WordPress site is an excellent place to start. Fortunately, if you’re using DreamHost as your WordPress hosting service, you’ll have access to our exciting new site builder from BoldGrid which includes a drag-and-drop page editor along with many customizable themes designed specifically for fitness. Plus, setting up a theme with DreamHost is a snap! To get started, you’ll need to select “WP Website Builder” as an option during checkout of your DreamHost plan purchase. Then, we’ll automatically install WordPress and premium website builder plugins for WordPress — Inspirations and Page & Post Builder — built by our friends at BoldGrid. Once you’re logged into WordPress, you’ll see the Inspriations setup page. Once you’re ready, select the Let’s Get Started! button. On the next screen, you’ll see lots of theme categories to choose from. Inspirations features 20 diverse and inspiring fitness themes. Once you pick your favorite, you’ll be walked through finalizing its setup. Another bonus is that you’ll be able to easily test the responsiveness of your layouts on three different screen types, right from the dashboard. If you need more help with getting started, your WordPress dashboard will now include some tutorial videos. Plus, you’ll find a new Inspirations menu that will lead you through switching to a different theme, in case you change your mind later on. 4. Create Heart-Pumping Content Now that you’ve caught the eye of your health-conscious audience with an alluring theme, you should consider some ways to fill your site with intriguing content. When it comes to human health and performance, you’ll never have trouble finding a topic for your next article. One method for getting started is by installing some fitness-minded plugins. If your fitness blog is going to feature recipes, for example, you might want to take a look at the Meal Planner Pro Recipes plugin. This feature-packed tool is designed to increase traffic, page views, and revenue. Plus, it’s free and optimized for search engines. Another useful solution if you’re planning to offer personal training or group fitness classes is the Ultimate Appointment Scheduling plugin. The beauty of this fitness scheduling tool is that you can create different locations, as well as one-to-one or one-to-many services. It’s also set up to accept payments via PayPal. We already discussed BoldGrid themes and their drag-and-drop design functionality. However, it’s worth mentioning again how page builder plugins can take your design to the next level. It’s a good practice to do a quick compatibility check between your theme and plugins. Once you’ve done that, you can get right to work on designing your site. 5. Explore How to Monetize Your Fitness Blog Once your fitness blog is ready to go, you might also want to consider various ways to promote or even monetize it. For example, you can drive traffic to your site through cross-promotions. If you have products you can’t live without in your fitness routine, reach out to the companies that produce them and see if they have an affiliate marketing program to generate passive income. Ultimately, the key to monetization is creating really good content. Once you’ve established yourself as the source for information in your niche area, you can explore offering premium content for a small fee. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you could create your own weekly workout guides and tips, menu plans, or other wellness content to sell on your site. Hosting contests, selling branded merchandise, or offering fee-based classes are all excellent ideas that could help you make money blogging. Related: 25 Legit Ways You Can Make Money Online 6. Share Your Posts to Promote Your Website Sharing a post-workout smoothie recipe on your blog might now be a breeze. However, mastering the maze of social media promotion might still be on your ‘to-do’ list. Social media can help you swap ideas with like-minded people and promote your fitness blog. There are a few key tips to keep in mind, including: Links. Strategically structured links can drive traffic from any social platform. Scheduling. A tool such as Hootsuite can save you time when it comes to social media. Your readers will also know when to expect new content. Automation. Content can be scheduled through plugins such as Jetpack’s Publicize module to publish to other platforms. This can help increase your audience reach. Keeping up with trends and social media platforms can be a workout in itself. Once you set up a process for your own site sharing, however, it can be rewarding and fun. Starting a Fitness Blog It takes a lot of dedication to train yourself or others to accomplish feats of physical fitness. However, building your own health or fitness blog shouldn’t be that hard. Here at DreamHost, we want to see you succeed at blogging, which is why we’ve partnered with BoldGrid to bring you amazing features to help you get your fitness blog live as quickly as possible. WordPress is our favorite training partner here at DreamHost. You’ll get a performance-enhancing boost from our WordPress hosting plans, which are now equipped with premium website builder tools that make WordPress easier than ever! The post How to Start a Fitness Blog (In 6 Steps) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Meet Museum Hack: Tours for People Who Don’t Like Museums

Did you know that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s famous Temple of Dendur was actually selected by Jackie Kennedy? She chose the ancient Egyptian temple on a trip to Egypt while her husband was president. And have you ever wondered why it’s located at the edge of the museum? It’s so that she could see it from her Manhattan apartment, earning it the nickname “Jackie’s Little Nightlight.” Another fun fact: Pablo Picasso’s “The Actor” painting wasn’t one of the artist’s more known pieces. But its worth skyrocketed — and so did visitors — after a museum guest tripped and accidentally put an elbow into it, triggering a very costly repair job. At this point you’re probably wondering where all of these tidbits are coming from, so we’ll fill you in: Museum Hack. The company, which uses DreamHost to power its websites, offers renegade tours of some of the best museums in the world, but this isn’t your typical tour. The guides are all about storytelling and interacting with the group, sharing context and quirky facts that you wouldn’t get on your grandma’s museum tour. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan A Tour is Born It all started in 2013 when Nick Gray went on a date to the Met and fell in love — with the museum. He went back with his iPad to research pieces he was interested in, things he could imagine being in his apartment. Soon he started giving tours to his friends, and one of them happened to be a writer for a popular blog. The next day after the tour was posted about, Gray had a waiting list of 1,000 people who wanted to take a tour with him. He hired a tour guide to help him lead the groups and started charging for tickets to pay for that. Now Museum Hack offers public museum tours in five cities across the U.S., as well as private tours and team building events in additional cities (it brought in $2.8 million in revenue last year). “When we first started, we branded ourselves as museum tours for people who don’t like museum tours; they were meant to have a renegade spirit,” says Michael Alexis, Museum Hack’s director of marketing. “It’s very different from conventional tours. We aim to entertain people first and educate them as part of that.” A VIP group poses with the art. If you imagine a typical museum tour, you probably envision someone lecturing as you walk from piece to piece. But Museum Hack is all about being interactive and getting to know the group. You can expect activities like taking a picture of a painting you’d either like to burn or buy, then having the group guess which fate you have in mind for your snapshot. “One of our pillars is it’s a social experience,” Alexis says. “Part of what we are competing with is not just other museum tours in cities, it’s literally everything — we’re competing with Netflix and iPhone games and whatever else. We found that the social experience is really important for making people feel it’s a great use of their time and making it memorable. People become more comfortable with each other and become friends on tour. It’s closely related to the VIP experience.” Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business Site Check During each two-hour tour, a guide will typically share the stories of 10 to 15 pieces, bringing the group through a range of galleries. “Everything is story-based,” Alexis says. “It’s also passion-based, so each guide is creating the material themselves after seeing what catches their eye and what resonates with them. It’s like going to a museum with a really good friend who also happens to know a lot about the collection.” Tour guide Zak at the American Museum of Natural History. Museum Hack offers overview tours as well as more niche ones. For example, “Badass Bitches Tours” is one of their most popular offerings at the Met. The two-hour tour explores feminism in the galleries, highlighting female artists and subjects, many of whom don’t get as much time in the spotlight. Each Museum Hack tour includes a mix of crowd-drawers and lesser-known works. “We try to get a mix of both,” Alexis says. “A lot of Met tours include ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware,’ but they don’t have to. It’s not definitive one way or the other. We often do include showstopper pieces, but we generally prefer to try to show a side of the museum that people might not otherwise see on their own. If you go to the Louvre, you’re going to see the ‘Mona Lisa,’ but there are 100,000 pieces that also deserve attention and have stories behind them, and we try to celebrate that.” Meet More Awesome Site OwnersSubscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Fearless Leaders Selecting and training their guides is not something Museum Hack takes lightly. “Choosing tour guides is an intense process,” Alexis says. “If you’ve ever seen ‘American Idol’ or ‘America’s Got Talent,’ it’s not so different from that. We put out a call for people. A lot of them tend to be actors or comedians of some sort. It works well for them because it’s a part-time position for the most part, so they can do other things as well. For us, it’s great because performers are very good in front of people and in small groups. They are very good at reading the audience and how it’s resonating. Things we might take for granted, like speaking clearly and projecting your voice, is second nature for them. And there are similarities between a script you would read in a play and creating a script.” Museum Hack tour guides having fun between tours. After auditions, the guides must train for three months before they can lead tours of their own. During that time, they learn Museum Hack’s framework, including their exclusive “five elements of a hack” approach. While Alexis won’t give away all the secrets, he explains it’s about teaching them what makes a story compelling and personal. “It’s not just any story about any object,” he says. “There needs to be this criteria. Every story must have a mind-blowing element, one thing you take away from it, which is cool. There are other pillars or priorities outside that story framework, including a sense of VIP — we want guests to feel like we rolled out the red carpet for them and every story is meant just for them; every tour is customized just for them.” As guides create their own tours, they can pull from stories that the founder has added to the “Hacktionary,” the secret book of all the stories Museum Hack tells at the museums. Alexis estimates that if you see 15 items on your tour, three of them might be from that core library and the remainder is from research the guide has done. “If you went with the same guide two weeks in a row you’d see different things because we’re constantly developing new ones,” he says. “One of the operational headaches is the collections change. Sometimes favorites have moved onto storage or another museum, but that’s also what makes it interesting.” A team takes a scavenger hunt selfie. Guides pull information from a wide variety of sources. Many of them have expertise beyond the museum. For example, one guide has a Ph.D. in biology and will use material from that field in their tours. “The guides are constantly picking up books,” Alexis says. “One of our guides put together a custom tour for Dannon, the yogurt company and carried around a book on the history of yogurt for a week, so he could figure out how to find pieces in the museum that correlated with what he was learning.” And of course, the guides do plenty of research online, too. They’re encouraged to look anywhere and everywhere for inspiration. Team Spirit In addition to their museum tours in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., Museum Hack also offers team building and corporate events in additional places, including in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Boston. It’s worked with major businesses like Google and Facebook and customizes each tour to the company’s needs. The company will even ask what movie rating they want for the tour — are they looking for something more adult or PG-13? Either way, Museum Hack guides aim to include elements to boost the workplace. “We build in activities to improve collaboration, leadership, etc.,” Alexis says. “Is there a piece about Napoleon in the museum? Then let’s talk about leadership in a way that’s related to Napoleon. Or we’ll do an activity where one person has to rely on another, for collaboration, and tell people why we’re doing it. We include this team building core to it.” Every Museum Hack tour starts with a cheer! (Dream) Host with the Most To keep their business booming, Museum Hack relies on DreamHost. “Notably, I’ve personally been a DreamHost user since 2009, so I’m going on a decade,” Alexis says. “We have several platforms and active campaigns, which we use DreamHost for.” For example, the company uses the domains teambuildnyc.com and teambuildingboston.org to drive traffic to museumhack.com. One reason Alexis is loyal to DreamHost is that it’s so simple to operate. “It has a very user-friendly dashboard,” he says. “I can point people around it, and it makes sense for them. Part of that is the one-click install, which I’ve used dozens of times to set up WordPress sites, versus a manual install or something else you’d do to get that. We have a number of email accounts within the DreamHost dashboard. And I love that everything is unlimited. DreamHost is the only host I’ve used where we are not thinking about resource allocation and not worrying about going over, thanks to unlimited domains and bandwidth. It gives us a lot of peace of mind.” Related: Want to Build a Website This Year? Here’s Your Game Plan Alexis is also grateful for the solid, reliable customer service. “The very few times whenever I’ve had something come up — not with performance, but if I’m setting up a site or doing security — contacting customer service is super easy and super quick. You know what you’re getting and how to fix it.” Additionally, DreamHost offers tools that make running a business easier, such as managing email lists and self-post tools, which is more “It’s also helped us having that unlimited capacity to scale up and launch websites,” Alexis says. “We can do it more quickly because we are ready to go when we create new accounts.” And less time spent on the nitty-gritty details means Museum Hack can spend more time researching fascinating stories about what you’ll find in some of the best museums in the world. The post Meet Museum Hack: Tours for People Who Don’t Like Museums appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Why .Inc Is the Perfect Top-Level Domain (TLD) for Your Business

Registering a domain name for your new project or business can be an exciting but stressful process. Finding out that your top preferences are already taken can throw a wrench in your plans, especially if you’ve already started building your brand. Fortunately, there’s a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) you can use to get the perfect address for your online presence. Released in May 2019, .inc came onto the domain scene as a premium option with extra benefits for businesses. In this article, we’ll take a dive into the .inc domain. We’ll cover why choosing the right domain is essential and take a brief look at the history of TLDs. Additionally, we’ll investigate who’s using .inc domains, the benefits of this new TLD, and how you can get one from your favorite domain registrar. Let’s get started! Your Great Idea Starts with a DomainDon’t let someone else register your URL. Search DreamHost’s 400+ TLDs to find the perfect fit for your website.Master Your Domain Why Choosing the Right Domain Name Matters Domain names are an important part of your brand, so getting yours right is a priority. However, it can also be a major frustration. As of March 2019, there were 1.6 billion websites on the internet. Nearly half were using .com domains, causing a scarcity of available web addresses with that TLD. In simple terms, the TLD — sometimes called a domain extension — is the portion of a URL immediately following the “dot.” So, for instance, website.org has a TLD of .org. The most familiar examples of TLDs are .com, .org, .edu, and .net. There are several subcategories of TLDs, including: gTLD. These are good, old generic top-level domains like .com, .net, and .biz. They’re still available for registration, but your choices might be limited. ngTLD. A series of New Generic TLDs, such as .pizza or .sports that are now available to highlight the nature of specific businesses or interests. ccTLD. These TLDs are Country Code domains such as .co or .uk. Using a ccTLD can impact your website’s rankings outside of the TLD’s country. Scarcity and issues caused by “cybersquatters” led the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to change the TLD protocols in 2013, to offer more flexibility and a predictable release schedule. This policy change meant web developers could plan for domain transitions and might be more likely to secure a domain name appropriate for their business. With more TLD options available than ever before, there might just be a perfect match available for you. Some TLDs even come with a few bells and whistles not usually associated with gTLDs. Related: What’s My Domain Worth? How to Value Your Domain Name 4 Benefits of a .inc Domain On May 7, 2019, all .inc domains were released to the general public for one flat price, including 1 and 2 characters and the most desirable keywords. The price — $2,499 — is much heftier than an average gTLD. However, there are some benefits that come with the higher price tag. Here are four to consider before writing .inc off. 1. Establishing an Authoritative Brand Presence May Be Easier   The premium price on .inc domain registration can help to keep speculative registrations — the practice of registering domains to simply resell at a profit — to a minimum. This enables businesses to own their online brands more authoritatively. Cybersquatting and the scarcity of gTLDs such as .com have forced some businesses to establish domains that don’t exactly match their actual business name. This can cause brand confusion and may even raise suspicions about your credibility. New .inc domains are more likely to have your brand name available. 2. Your Domain Will Be More Versatile A .inc domain can be a dynamic addition to your existing domain. Big brands such as Gap, PayPal, and Fox have utilized the .inc domain craze to create investor relations sites and corporate sites alongside their pre-established .com sites meant for consumers. Other businesses have registered .inc domains for new ventures, hiring employees, or internal use. Since so many businesses already have “Inc” as part of their business name, this new TLD effectively alerts visitors to the purpose of your site. Rather than taking away from your established brand or existing domain, a .inc address can provide more choices for your business strategy. 3. You’ll Gain Access to Business-to-Business (B2B) Perks The price tag attached to .inc domains includes more than $2,500 in premium benefits from brands such as Delta Air Lines, Square, Google Ads, and Quickbooks. These rewards can provide perks for your company that might make the cost of a .inc domain worth the investment. For example, a .inc domain grants you access to free incorporation services from LegalZoom. Square provides $1,000 worth of transaction fee credits to .inc domain registrants. Additionally, you’ll be able to get a $150 Google Ads spending match to help with your marketing budget. 4. International .inc Domains Can Help Boost Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) We’ve already discussed the benefit of a .inc domain in terms of branding. Similarly, they can also help your SEO strategy by bringing the right Second-Level Domain (SLD) together with your TLD. For the uninitiated, SLDs are the words between “www” and the “dot” in a URL. Internationalized domain names, such as .inc, can help you rank in Google all over the world, while a ccTLD may limit your visibility to just one country or region. Here’s an example. Collab.inc, formerly CollabCreators.com, switched to a .inc domain in order to list their actual business name on the web, business cards, presentations, and search engines. Doing this helped reduce their instances of brand confusion and boost keyword results. In fact, Collab.inc is the No. 1 search result in Google for the term “collab” — higher than Collab.com, Inc.com, Crunchbase, and many other sites with millions of monthly visitors. Related: The Top 11 SEO Best Practices for Domains Top Name Brands That Are Using the .inc TLD To further highlight the popularity of .inc domains, it’s interesting to note that more than 20% of Forbes’ “Most Valuable” Brands have already registered theirs. Top companies such as Gap, Fox, and PayPal have locked in their .inc domains and utilized them in creative ways. Gap, Inc., for instance, has set up its new TLD to house investor relations information, career opportunities, press releases, and information about the company’s sustainability practices and mission. Over at Fox.inc., a website strictly regarding investor relations has been set up. Providing investors with reports, resources, stock information, and news, this .inc site has enabled the incorporated business to extend its brand while keeping portions of the company separate and intentional. Related: The (Many) Hidden Costs of Cheap Domains How to Get a .inc Domain Unlike the frustration that comes with snagging your dream .com domain, registering the .inc domain you need is as easy as visiting us at DreamHost. In addition to .inc, we offer 400 other TLDs for you to choose from. We also have one of the lowest prices on the web for .inc domains for a limited time. Plus, don’t forget that any .inc domain registered with us comes with all the member benefits we mentioned earlier. Altogether, these perks alone are worth more than $2,500. The .inc Experience If your current TLD doesn’t quite match your brand, you may be wondering if there’s another option for you. A .inc domain may the best solution to your problem, while also providing your company with some valuable benefits. Using a .inc domain has many advantages, including: Authority: The .inc domain literally means “business” and speaks volumes to your site visitors. Versatility: Extensive naming options means  .inc can be used in a variety of ways both externally and internally. Company benefits: The premium .inc price tag comes with several B2B benefits from big companies, including Google Ads, Delta, and LegalZoom. Increased SEO: The combination of your SLD and TLD matter to search engines, and .inc can help improve your ranking. For a limited time, DreamHost is offering .inc domains for just $1,899 — the lowest price on the internet! Take full control of your business name online with a .inc domain. Plus, if you buy now, you’ll also receive 50% off our web hosting packages! The post Why .Inc Is the Perfect Top-Level Domain (TLD) for Your Business appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

5 Reasons You Need a Custom Email Address for Your Small Business

First impressions are crucial in business. However, you may be missing out on an easy way to improve yours with a custom email address. While an email client like Gmail or Yahoo may seem to be an easy solution to your business email needs, free accounts lack the professionalism of a custom email address. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to set up your own custom email address with DreamHost. By incorporating your website’s domain into your primary contact email, you’ll reassure users they have the right information. Not only that, but you’ll also improve your brand’s appearance. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at custom email addresses and five reasons why small business owners (like you!) need one. We’ll also go over how to create one with our email hosting plans. Let’s jump right in! Get Professional Email @yourdomainPromote your website with every message you send when you set up professional email that matches your domain with DreamHost. Plans start at $1.67/mo.Sign Up Now Understanding Custom Email Addresses When you take into account the popularity of email, getting it right for your business is pretty important. According to 72% of consumers, email is their preferred form of marketing communication. Additionally, email is 40 times more effective for lead acquisition and conversion than social media. Setting up an email address for your business might seem simple, but there are several things to consider when creating yours. With that in mind, you might be interested to learn that custom email addresses don’t have to be attached to your website’s hosting provider. At DreamHost, we offer email-only plans in addition to our excellent web hosting. Our plans enable you to follow key email best practices, such as using traditional naming conventions. Additionally, you can create separate addresses for the different departments in your business. For example, you might use an address such as support@businessname.com for your company’s support team. This can help make your business look professional and keep your communications organized. Related: The Website Owner’s Guide to Email Marketing 5 Reasons Why You Need A Custom Email Address for Your Small Business Email is such an integrated part of our daily lives that it can be invaluable as a marketing channel. Here are five reasons why having a custom email address can improve your communications with users. 1. Custom Email Addresses Build Credibility Your email address is likely what many of your clients and customers think of first when they want to contact your business. This makes it a core part of your brand. It can also be an easy way to build credibility with customers. Statistics show consumers are much more likely to provide their payment information online if a company’s email address is reflective of its name. Additionally, if you’re doing any kind of email marketing, a professional email will go even further to build trust with your audience, which is crucial for landing conversions. 2. Professional Email Is a Cost-Effective Marketing Tool By 2022, researchers project half of the world’s population will be using email. When you consider that, it’s probably wise to invest in building a strong email marketing strategy. This might include choosing a web hosting package that provides an option to create a custom email address. From your email signature to your business cards, a branded email address can make an impression and help solidify your brand wherever it appears. Considering the Return On Investment (ROI) for email marketing, it makes sense to pay close attention to what customers see in the From field. Related: How to Create an Email Newsletter (And Why You Should) 3. You Can Standardize Company Emails When you use a custom email address that matches your website domain, it can help your business appear more professional. It can also enable you to standardize the way all emails within your business look. As your brand grows, you won’t have to worry about employees using off-brand or unprofessional email addresses for business communications. Additionally, you can use your email hosting plan to create addresses for different departments within your business; this helps provide organization and structure. Even if you’re the one who answers every email that comes in, having separate addresses for different purposes can help you keep track of each message. 4. Custom Emails Can Help Maintain Security When you avoid using a free email provider, you can more easily stay on top of email and data security. Allowing employees to use free, personal email accounts presents a risk to your business. You can’t control aspects such as privacy, who they share business information with, and other legal concerns. Related: Build an Email List With Your WordPress Website in 3 Simple Steps A custom business email can also streamline your onboarding process. Standard and consistent email procedures and set up will make for easier employee integration. Plus, you can avoid losses of information during staff turnover. 5. Branded Emails Can Help You Stay Out of Subscribers’ Spam Folders Email marketing can be a profitable strategy, but only if your emails aren’t ending up in subscribers’ spam folders. Recipient email accounts are more likely to mark a message as spam if it comes from a free provider such as Yahoo or Gmail. Branded emails from known platforms send a signal to inboxes that your messages are less of a risk, and it’s OK to accept them. With this in mind, sending your business marketing emails with Gmail or Yahoo might be taking a toll on your conversion rate. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up How to Acquire a Custom Email Address for Your Small Business There are a couple of approaches you can take to acquire a custom email account at your website’s domain. You may want to start by looking at your current web hosting service to see if a custom email is included in your package. Alternatively, you can find an email hosting provider. Here at DreamHost, we understand the value of a branded email address for your business. That’s why we offer email-only hosting. Even if you’re not currently a DreamHost customer, you can still take advantage of our full-service email hosting for as little as $19.99 a year without migrating your website. Setting up your DreamHost email hosting plan is as simple as following a few easy steps: Select a monthly or yearly plan. Register a new domain, use an existing domain, or decide later which domain to use. Provide payment information and select how many email boxes you need. Complete your email set up in your new email administration panel. For less than the cost of a monthly latte habit, you can boost your brand with a custom email address and improve your business’ professional appearance. Professional Email @yourdomain Research shows email usage does not appear to be declining anytime soon. If you’ve been wondering about how to grow your business with email marketing, creating a custom address is a great way to make an impact. You may have quickly launched a small business utilizing handy Gmail tools. However, transitioning to a branded address is still worth investigating for several reasons, including: Credibility: Branded email present a more professional appearance to your clients. Marketing: A custom email account can be a cost-effective addition to your marketing plan. Standardization: Presenting a similar email structure from all your staff to your customers helps maintain brand standards and professionalism. Security: Protecting privacy, sensitive company information, and other important data is easier on a company email. Visibility: Custom email addresses are less likely to end up in your customers’ spam folder. Are you ready to crank up the professional appeal and marketing power of your email address? Whether you’re looking for a complete hosting solution or want to try our cost-effective email-only plan, DreamHost is here to help you take your business website to the next level! The post 5 Reasons You Need a Custom Email Address for Your Small Business appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How You Can Enhance DreamShield With a Security Audit Log

While it can be tempting to install a WordPress security plugin and sign off, the best website security strategies combine various tools to protect both users and content. However, knowing which tools are worth your time can be challenging. It’s vital to take a close look at the features your security tools provide and pair them up so that all your bases are covered. For example, you might start with a malware scanning and removal tool such as DreamShield and then enhance it with a security audit log plugin. In this post, we’ll explore this exact combination. We’ll start by introducing you to both DreamShield and WordPress security logs. Then we’ll cover three ways this duo can help protect your site. Let’s get started! Do More with DreamPressDreamPress' automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on creating great content.Check Out Plans An Introduction to DreamShield A few years ago, we released DreamShield, a security scanning and malware removal tool for DreamHost users. It not only alerts you to vulnerabilities on your WordPress site but also helps you recover after an attack by automatically removing malware and fixing permissions issues. By using DreamShield, you can keep your site more secure without lifting a finger. Once enabled, DreamShield performs weekly scans for malware and other potential security risks. You’ll also receive update notifications to remind you when your WordPress installation, plugins, and themes need to be upgraded to the latest version. These notifications can help you take advantage of security patches for known problems. DreamShield is an add-on for DreamHost plans. You can incorporate it into your hosting account for just $3 per month. Considering the price tags on some other big-name WordPress security tools that offer DreamShield’s features, this is a steal (in our humble opinion)! The Benefits of Tracking User Actions Within WordPress However, no one security tool can do it all. For this reason, you should consider enhancing DreamShield with a security audit log, which sometimes is also called an activity log.  A security audit log is a record of every action taken on your site so you can spot and quickly resolve problems. WordPress doesn’t include a security log out of the box. However, you can keep a security log by installing a plugin. WP Security Audit Log is one of the most popular and highly rated. You’ll be able to easily keep track of all the changes made to your WordPress site, including theme and plugin installations and updates, as well as which user made each change. Additionally, you can see each login attempt, including when and where it took place. If you spot any activity that seems suspicious, you can log users out remotely with a single click. While all of this may seem overwhelming and hard to track, email notifications can alert you to the most significant changes, and comprehensive monthly reports can provide a detailed overview. WP Security Audit Log is available in both free and premium editions. You can download the free version to keep the audit logs or go with WP Security Audit Log Premium to add SMS and email notifications, reports, user sessions management, and much more. Licenses start at $89 per year. How You Can Enhance DreamShield With a Security Log (3 Tips) While DreamShield and a security log are individually useful for maintaining your WordPress site’s security, they work really well together. Here are three ways a security log can improve DreamShield’s effectiveness. 1. Monitor Your Logged In Users By using a security log, you can easily keep track of who’s logged in to your site, when, and from where. You’ll also be able to see when a non-existent username tries to log in, when a series of unsuccessful logins has taken place, and when there has been a number of failed login attempts. All of these indicate a possible brute force attack. This feature is beneficial for a few reasons. In addition to monitoring for brute force attacks, you can note suspicious behavior — users who are logging in from an unusual IP address or at strange times of the day. A security log complements DreamShield’s scanning and malware removing features. You can keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and prevent attacks by logging out and blocking suspicious users. While the free version of WP Security Audit Log will allow you to monitor login attempts, you’ll need the premium plugin to log out WordPress users remotely and block them from your site. It also enables you to prevent simultaneous sessions so two people can’t log in to the same account at the same time. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 2. Boost Your Prevention of Malicious Activity In addition to monitoring when users log in and out, you can also see when they make changes to your site, such as updating posts and pages or uploading files to your Media Library. If users are making unauthorized changes to your site, it could indicate malicious behavior. A user with bad intentions could add spam links to your posts, upload malicious files, or even delete content from your site altogether — stealing hours of hard work. Related: What Is Malware? What You Need to Know to Keep Your Website Safe While DreamShield’s automated malware removal feature is an excellent way to recover after an attack, it’s always best to avoid a security breach in the first place. By noting unusual changes made to your site, you can stop an attack as or before it’s happening. Plus, you’ll know exactly what’s been done to your site and can work to reverse changes not covered by DreamShield such as spam links or deleted content. Our DreamPress plans come with automated backups and one-click restore functionality to help you recover what you’ve lost as well. 3. Troubleshoot More Efficiently Sometimes the trouble with your WordPress site isn’t directly security-related. Compatibility errors following WordPress core, plugin, or theme updates can spell disaster for both you and your users if your site becomes inaccessible. Fortunately, since WP Security Audit Log keeps track of each and every update on your site, you can quickly find offending plugins or themes. After restoring a backup of your site to undo the changes made by the update, you can get to work on making sure each part of your website plays nicely with the others. This takes all the guesswork out of traditional WordPress troubleshooting. Paired with DreamShield’s update notices, a security log can help ensure your website is up-to-date without causing errors. You’ll be able to better protect your site, users, and revenue by keeping vulnerabilities patched up. Conclusion Securing your WordPress site isn’t something you want to take lightly. Building an effective security strategy should include combining multiple tools to make sure all your bases are covered, and your users and content are protected. When it comes to protecting your WordPress site, DreamHost has your back. Add DreamShield to your hosting plan today! The post How You Can Enhance DreamShield With a Security Audit Log appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

The Power of Customer Testimonials: 9 Reasons to Use Social Proof on Your Website

What was the last thing you bought? Whether it was the latest-and-greatest tech toy, a must-have beauty product, or a mouthwatering burger at a new restaurant, you probably bought it because you got a great recommendation from a friend — or you meticulously scoured internet reviews for the scoop on a particular product or service. When it comes to purchasing decisions, consumers religiously follow word-of-mouth recs — virtual or IRL — from peers and unbiased others. Product reviews are 12  times more trusted than product description or copy coming directly from brands, and a near 70% of online consumers check reviews before buying. Other data reveals that 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase. What’s more, 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. These numbers represent a profound insight for small businesses and entrepreneurs. When it comes to handing over their hard-earned $$$, consumers are more likely swayed by endorsements from trusted peers and unbiased others during the decision-making process, not the companies peddling the products. Word of mouth matters. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan What Is Social Proof? Social proof = sway. Essentially, it’s a fancy term for the truism that people follow the crowd. Social proof manifests itself in different ways, but companies who want to boost their bottom line will employ elements of social proof on their website to build trust with customers, increase your conversion rate, and establish a powerful brand image. So what does social proof look like online? Examples of social proof include: Instagram post likes customer testimonials online rating systems influencer and celebrity endorsements proudly-displayed certification or credentials badges social media shares large social media followings media mentions user or subscriber counts awards client icons The most successful companies utilize one (or more) of these tools on their sites. Long story short: there’s immense power in social proof. And more often than not, the presence or absence of social proof on your e-commerce site will be the make-it-or-break-it factor in your business earning five-star online reviews, loyal customers, and abundant sales. Not convinced yet? Let’s explore nine reasons why your website needs social proof. Plus, we’ll share some of the IRL websites of businesses who are nailing social proof. Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business 9 Reasons to Use Social Proof on Your Website 1. Social Proof Creates — and Sustains — Customer Trust It’s great that your product can do XYZ and has a list of gold-star features. But unless you’ve got an army of brand ambassadors, potential customers aren’t going to buy it — literally or figuratively. Employing social proof assures prospective customers that your sales pitch echoes the actual experience of people who have done business with you and isn’t just a marketing tactic. Consumers need multiple unbiased opinions that your product or service is going to do what you say it will. Social proof elements help shoppers trust that your business is legitimate, persuading them that there are real fans of your product or service. Validation through social proof adds credibility and authenticity to your business. Skin and hair care brand Teadora establishes trust with potential customers by displaying media mentions and certifications. 2. Social Proof Utilizes the Influencing Power of Your Customers Your customers aren’t merely sales numbers; they’re powerful tools of persuasion that can help you grow your business. Social proof allows you to utilize an authentic marketing strategy that can effectively sway customers disillusioned by modern clickbait, sponsored ads, and false claims. Whether you’re sharing five-star ratings, video testimonials, or a list of your high-profile clients, social proof allows you to take advantage of the substantial selling power of your customers. E-commerce fulfillment provider ShipBob knows that their customers’ positive experiences can help persuade others to use their services, so they prominently display them near a call-to-action button. 3. Social Proof Shows Customers You Care Social proof isn’t just about proving to consumers that they should get on your business bandwagon (because #FOMO). It’s also about demonstrating that you care about the customer experience and that you value the opinions of your customers enough to share them with others. What’s more — when you display badges, certifications, and awards, you show that you care about safety, quality, knowledge, and growth. It makes it apparent that your company fosters engagement, sustainability, and customer loyalty. Writer Elna Cain of Innovative Ink uses customer testimonials not only to promote her business and gain customer confidence but also to show the strong relationships she has with customers, and that she cares about them and their needs. 4. Social Proof Distinguishes Your Business From Competitors It’s likely that the competition in your industry is fierce. You need to set yourself apart to build a business with staying power and a bottomless bottom line. By using elements of social proof on your website, you separate yourself from other marketers and show consumers what makes your brand different. Why should they choose you over another brand? Let your customers do the talking. Allbirds shoe company displays a clear testimonial on their site, a press review that distinguishes the brand from their competition. 5. Social Proof Identifies Your Target Customers Just like shoppers are looking for something specific, so is your business. Finding your target audience assures that you make more high-quality sales, establish long-lasting customer relationships, and grow a sustainable business. Use social proof to help consumers know who your ideal customer is, and how your product or service will benefit them specifically. As they identify with relatable qualities, they’ll more effectively envision themselves as satisfied using your product, and you’ll enjoy higher conversion rates. This benefit of social proof also validates current and past customers, helping followers connect more strongly with your business as they line up with target audiences. Plus, by appealing to your target customers through social proof, you’ll demonstrate you’re in-tune with your market, proving you understand them and their needs. Curology creatively gives a small snapshot of the type of customers who do — and can — use their products, using real-world examples to help potential customers identify themselves with the brand’s target. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 6. Social Proof Highlights Selling Points Losing things, forgetting an appointment, smelling bad — there are a lot of things that trouble people. For every pain point, there’s a business looking to alleviate that consumer concern. What about your product or service meets a glaring customer need? Social proof on your website allows you to highlight the key selling points and features of your product and identify how it can relieve consumers’ most troubling problems. Without boring or exhausting them with repetitive, overly-confident, and schmoozy digital marketing, keep things fresh by illustrating the many attractive features of your product or service through customer proof. You’ll help customers make a decision and give your business dimension. Owlet appeals to overly-exhausted parents by featuring a third-party review assuring that their product will meet a desperate need: a full night’s sleep. 7. Social Proof Follows Consumer Purchasing Patterns Let’s turn that old parental adage on its head: “If all your friends were buying the latest gadget, would you do it too?” Well, science says yes, it’s likely. When deciding where to divvy their dollars, consumers aren’t taking your word for it — they need social validation from their peers (including virtual ones) to confidently make purchases. Reviews rule in the e-commerce biz. Social proof aligns with how consumers shop, meaning your efforts to outfit your site with social evidence and customer proof have the potential to yield a massive ROI. Because consumers adapt their purchasing patterns to follow the trends and behaviors of the crowds, your business needs to utilize the enormous marketing power of previous buyers to influence those on-the-fence shoppers, effectively converting consumers into customers. Related: How Your Online Business Can Nail Customer Service Soliciting feedback, highlighting glowing reviews, showcasing testimonials, sharing the feedback of happy customers — these and other tactics appeal to the proven ways that audiences buy. Think like your customers: if loads of satisfied customers put forth the effort to leave a review of your product, it must be good. And let’s face it  — these days, customers aren’t buying anything without even glancing at some of those reviews. By employing social proof, you’re working with the psychology of sales and proving your business’ virtual street-smarts. In a unique, engaging way, Postmark showcases customer satisfaction by using an impactful rating element on their site, proving they know the power of reviews in customer buying patterns. 8. Social Proof Builds Your Brand Image It’s good to have a successful, growing business. But you want more; namely, a strong, positive brand image. Social proof can elevate your influence by spreading that all-important virtual word-of-mouth and increasing your visibility. Be a well-respected, well-known, and high-sales leader in your field by establishing your business as an authority through social validation. Slack helps brand visibility by showcasing its high-profile users and success stories. With the virtual name-drop of other prominent brands, they elevate themselves to a highly-influential and well-respected brand image. 9. Social Proof Creates User-Generated Content Every website owner knows content is king. As a business owner, you need content to incentivize consumers to come to you and care about your brand and offerings. With social proof, your customers supply valuable content that you can promote on your site to grow traffic and increase engagement. Doing the work to solicit reviews, customer stories, and press coverage provides you with useful content that can fill company blog posts, draw eyes, and give you fodder for your sales funnels. Customer testimonial videos provide great shareable content for Amazon Services. Your Mission: Increase Conversions with Positive Reviews  We love our customers — and they’ve got some nice things to say about us! We proudly display our reviews so that potential Dreamhost users can read the IRL experiences of those who use our services. Now that you’re convinced of the importance of social proof, you’re going to need a website to display those five-star reviews proudly. We’d recommend starting with DreamHost’s Shared Hosting — the easiest way to get everything you need to thrive on the web. And with plans starting at just $2.59 per month, building social proof for your brand won’t break the bank. Need a second (or third) opinion? Read what our customers have to say. The post The Power of Customer Testimonials: 9 Reasons to Use Social Proof on Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Add a Quick View Option to Your WooCommerce Products

WooCommerce is an excellent tool for creating and managing an online store. However, there are some features it doesn’t include out of the box, such as a quick view option. Considering the importance of product displays for landing sales, this is a crucial missed opportunity. The good news is that, like many such issues in WordPress, you can solve this problem without too much trouble. Using the right plugin, you can easily add a quick view option to all of your products. This makes it easier for customers to examine and purchase items – and increase your conversion rate to earn more revenue! In this post, we’ll explain the many benefits of adding a quick view display option to each of your WooCommerce products. Then we’ll share two simple steps for doing so using WooCommerce Quick View Pro. Let’s get right to it! Your Store Deserves WooCommerce HostingSell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world's biggest eCommerce platform.See Plans The Benefits of Including a Quick View Option for Your WooCommerce Products In online retail, a quick view display is a popup box that shows a product’s key details. This information might include one or several images, pricing, variations, and an Add to Cart button. Quick view displays are typically accessed by clicking a button or hovering over a product in a catalog or list view. For example, you might include quick views on your product category pages, so customers can see more information about individual products without having to navigate to their product pages. This feature provides several benefits to your users. For instance, since they don’t have to navigate back and forth between your product lists and individual product pages, browsing becomes a lot easier. Guests can simply open the quick view display to see a product’s details, and then continue looking through the other items on the page. Additionally, quick view displays are an ideal place to include photo galleries, zoom options, and information about product variations and add-ons. With these additions, customers can get an up-close look at the items they’re interested in from multiple angles. They can also see each of the colors or other variations an item comes in. Finally, quick view displays with an Add to Cart button simplify the purchasing process. Customers can add multiple items to their carts without having to leave your category page or product list. This enables them to continue browsing without interruption, increasing the chances that they’ll buy more products. Ultimately, adding a quick view option is beneficial to both you and your potential customers. Enhancing your product displays with this handy feature is a simple way to make your e-commerce website easier and more enjoyable to use. Related: How to Build an Awesome WooCommerce Store with the OceanWP Theme How to Add a Quick View Option to Your WooCommerce Products (In 2 Steps) With the WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin, adding quick view popup boxes for each of your WooCommerce products is fast and easy. Let’s look at how to configure and use this solution in just two steps. Step 1: Download, Install, and Activate WooCommerce Quick View Pro The first thing you’ll need to do is acquire WooCommerce Quick View Pro, and add it to your WooCommerce site. It’s important to note that you must already have WooCommerce installed and activated for this quick view plugin to work. To get started, head to the developer’s website and navigate to Plugins > WooCommerce Quick View Pro. Here you’ll find information and pricing for the plugin; at this time, there isn’t a free version of this particular tool. Once you’ve purchased a license, you can download the WooCommerce Quick View Pro .zip file. You should also receive an email containing your license key. Make sure to take note of this, as you’ll need it to finish setting up the plugin. Next, make your way to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New. Click on Upload Plugin at the top of the screen. You can then select or drag-and-drop the .zip file containing the plugin, and hit Install Now. After the installation is complete, select the Activate button as well. Finally, with your license key in hand, access WooCommerce Quick View Pro’s settings by navigating to WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Quick View. The first field available should be the one for your license key. Add your license key here, then scroll down and click on the Save changes button. You’re now ready to start using the plugin. Step 2: Configure the Plugin’s Settings to Meet Your Needs Once you’ve installed and activated WooCommerce Quick View Pro, the plugin will automatically add a quick view display option to each of your products. However, you can also customize these displays to include the information you need by visiting the plugin’s settings. First, you’ll want to decide how your customers will open the quick view displays. You can use a button, enable the quick view to open when a customer clicks on the product image or name , or both. Leaving both of these options unchecked will disable the quick view displays entirely. The two fields below the Opening the Quick View check boxes will help you customize your Quick View button with your own text. You can also choose to add or remove the button icon. Next, you’ll need to decide what information you want to include in your popups. You have the option of an image, product details, or both. If you include images, you can choose to enable a gallery-style view and zoom functionality. Quick View Pro works great as a standalone WooCommerce gallery lightbox plugin. Both of these options are useful for customers who want to see variations on a product or get a closer look at fine details such as stitching. If you choose to add product details to your quick view displays, you’ll also need to check the box for each item you wish to include. Your options are: Reviews: These can provide social proof for your merchandise. Price: An important detail for customers who are debating a purchase. Short description: It helps to highlight features that could make an item more desirable. Add to Cart button: A button makes purchasing fast and easy. Meta information: This includes extra product information such as categories, tags, and SKU codes. Once you’ve selected all the information you wish to incorporate, your quick view displays will be ready to go. You can always come back here to change these settings, and your quick view displays will be updated automatically. By default, the plugin adds your quick view displays to your category pages and other areas where customers may be browsing through several items. However, you can also incorporate them into product pages, too. Plus, all your quick view displays will be fully responsive for mobile shoppers. Quick view lightboxes like the ones you can create with WooCommerce Quick View Pro are especially helpful for giving customers a better look at your products on smaller screens. Design Your User Experience Detailed, easy-to-view product displays are essential to the success of your online store. With quick view displays, you can point out the best qualities of each of your products, simplify browsing, and speed up the purchase process. In some cases, this might even lead to an increase in sales. Are you ready to up the ante on your WooCommerce store? Consider DreamPress, our managed WordPress hosting solution. With automatic updates and strong security defenses, DreamPress takes server management off your hands so you can focus on what you do best: selling products. Learn more about plan options today. The post How to Add a Quick View Option to Your WooCommerce Products appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Get Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms on Your Website

Running a business means you’re probably always on the lookout for new customers. This can be tough online, where there’s so much content vying for your audience’s attention. Even if you’ve built a beautiful website, it can be difficult to get visitors to stick around and interact with it. That’s where a lead capture form comes in! These marketing gems can be used in many ways throughout your website. In particular, they’re especially useful for gathering valuable data about your leads and increasing conversion rates. In this article, we’ll look deeper into what lead generation forms are. We’ll also discuss why you should include them on your site, and how to get site visitors to click on their Submit buttons. Let’s get started! An Introduction to Lead Generation Forms and Why They’re Beneficial Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably filled out dozens of lead generation forms. Some common examples include user registrations, contact forms, opt-in forms, and email subscription sign-ups. They’re the entry points to your site’s “lead capture funnel,” which means they gather the information you need to convert visitors into customers. According to Kissmetrics, 96% of people who go to a website don’t go with the intention to buy something right away. Building high-quality lead generation forms that follow best practices can do a lot to help boost your conversion rate and turn your visitors (think of them as “qualified leads”) into customers. Although they may seem like small details, lead generation forms are key to any site’s success. For example, getting visitors to register on your website can make them feel as though they’re part of an online community. This helps build brand loyalty that may steer them towards your site when they’re ready to purchase a product or service you offer. Related: How to Create a Loyalty Program for Your Website (And Why You Should) Similarly, contact forms that enable users to make inquiries about offers can streamline the conversion process. By putting you directly in touch with leads, these forms allow you to easily respond and seal the deal. Finally, email marketing is still a highly effective strategy. Building your email list and collecting information to craft targeted content is a vital part of a successful marketing plan. High-quality lead generation forms can help with that. How to Get Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms on Your Website (5 Tips) Designing a great sign-up form is only half the battle. Getting people to actually fill them out without abandoning them can be a bigger challenge! Let’s take a look at five tips for getting site visitors to follow through. 1. Offer Incentives to Attract Visitors to Your Forms Most people enjoy receiving discounts or free products. Many are willing to “pay” for them by giving you their email addresses or signing up for an account. This makes coupons and other special offers smart ways to incentivize your lead generation forms. Take ThredUp, for example. This online thrift store offers a pop-up for a 50% off coupon in exchange for your email address. Some other potential incentives include free trials, e-books, online courses, or sample products. At CrazyEgg, users receive a free heatmap for submitting their website address. All are workable options as incentives you can offer site visitors in return for filling out your capture form. 2. Review the Length of Your Forms to Prevent Abandonment Generally speaking, website users like to complete tasks quickly. Keeping your forms short and simple will likely yield the highest conversion rates. That said, you also want to gather as much information as possible about your potential customers. Elements such as progress bars can help extend users’ patience when it comes to filling out multi-step forms. Breaking up questions into sections and tabs is also a way to make forms feel shorter. For instance, BrokerNotes has a 46% conversion rate through their “un-form,” which provides an interactive experience for users guided by helpful breadcrumbs. It gathers a lot of information, while also providing users with incentives along the way. 3. Leverage Social Media to Promote Lead Generation Incorporating social media might seem like a no-brainer when it comes to marketing. However, it can also boost access to your lead generation forms via tools such as Facebook Lead Ads. Additionally, enabling users to create accounts using their favorite social platforms can increase your registration count. In fact, 77% of users think social login is a great idea and wish all sites offered it. By shortening the registration and sign-in processes, social logins can help combat “account fatigue” and increase the likelihood of visitors becoming members. Additionally, this strategy makes it easier for you to gather information on your users, which you can then use to improve your marketing strategy. 4. Test Your Forms to Find and Fix Errors Once you dive in and design a lead capture form that suits your goals and branding needs, you’ll want to make sure it actually works. Regularly testing your forms can help avoid a high bounce rate, incorrect information, and user frustration. High-quality forms often follow basic web design best practices, but there are a few exceptions and considerations. You’ll want to review your content and structures for elements such as title consistency, error message language, button content, and more. You might also consider instituting A/B testing. This process involves creating two versions of a form and trying them out to see which one works better. Just remember to be careful when setting this system up for your forms, as there are some technical aspects to consider that could cause the test to fail. 5. Eliminate Distractions and Friction to Decrease User Frustration When users try to fill out your lead capture form, they shouldn’t feel like they’re working. The best way to avoid this is to reduce “friction” such as error messages, data that fails to load or send, and unclear instructions. To do that, keep vital elements such as form field labels, layout, placement on the page, and even Call to Action (CTA) color choice in mind. Doing this will help point users in the right direction to complete your form. Similarly, distractions can also cause a dip in your conversion rate. Distractions include anything that prevents your visitors from engaging in the action you most want them to take. The closer a user gets to completing the desired action, the fewer elements you should have on the page to draw their attention away from the ultimate goal. Tools for Adding Lead Generation Forms to Your Website If you’re using WordPress, you’re one step closer to taking advantage of lead generation forms. There are several plugins available to help you incorporate them into your site; one of the most popular is OptinMonster. OptinMonster enables you to create popups to re-engage visitors who are leaving your site and encourage them to fill out your lead generation form. The tool also makes creating different form layouts easy. Pairing this and other tools with a fast, reliable WordPress host can improve your site’s user experience and increase your chance of capturing leads. Do More with DreamPressOur automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on conversion rate optimization.Check Out Plans Lead Nurturing to Increase Conversions Building a client base can be challenging. However, knowing that your lead generation forms are consistently converting at a high rate can provide you with some comfort as you grow your business. Are you ready to add lead generation forms to your landing pages? Combining these key takeaways with lead capture plugins and our fully-managed WordPress hosting plans can help you start working towards a higher conversion rate! The post How to Get Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms on Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans)

Whether you’re setting out to build your own website or plan on hiring a developer, you might be overwhelmed by the pricing options available for website hosting. In order to create a reasonable budget for your website and still maximize performance, you’ll need to conduct some research first. Arming yourself with a broad selection of hosting information and pricing levels will help you confidently pick a web host that suits your needs. Additionally, knowing the basic benefits that come with managed versus unmanaged hosting and the different options available is an important step towards building a great website. In this article, we’ll take a look at three different kinds of web hosting services and discuss how much you should expect to pay for them. Let’s get started! The Costs Involved in Starting a New Website When it comes to getting a new website off the ground, you can do so for next to nothing. However, there will likely be some costs to keep in mind as you plan to launch your site. Let’s look at WordPress, for example. The software itself is open-source and won’t cost a cent. Still, you’ll need to consider the following costs: Domain name. Depending on what name you’re hoping to score, domain pricing can have a wide range. For a standard .com name, however, you’ll need to plan for anywhere between $10 to $50 per year. Premium themes or plugins. If you want full control over all aspects of your site, you may need to consider a budget for premium plugins and themes. The extra cost is often worth it if you’re looking to set yourself apart from competitors. Web hosting. Hosting is required to get your site online and, in most cases, will involve a monthly fee that can vary significantly. Your hosting service is the highest non-optional cost you’ll need to worry about. That’s why we’ll spend the rest of this article providing the information you need to make an informed hosting decision. Related: How to Start a WordPress Site in 5 Minutes How Much Does Website Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans) There are several types of web hosting, and costs can range from less than $5 per month to hundreds of dollars per month. To help you cut through the clutter, we’re going to look at the three major categories of web hosting services you’ll want to consider in your search. 1. Shared Hosting The first and most popular kind of hosting is shared hosting. This variety is so common among web hosting companies because it’s cost-effective. Shared hosting distributes the resources of one physical server among multiple websites. Performance and Security Let’s get the biggest downside of shared hosting out of the way first. It’s more difficult to maintain high speeds and overall performance on this type of hosting. You can think of it like having a timeshare on an exotic island. You get the benefit of a beautiful place to relax and some very general upkeep, but it might not be available whenever you want or need it. Since loading times can make a big difference in how people interact with your site, performance is a critical consideration. Shared hosting also requires that you stay on top of updates. If one person forgets to lock the door to your timeshare, it could ruin the experience for everyone. That also means it’s possible for security issues on other sites to affect yours. Service Levels Shared hosting generally offers very basic service levels. You can think of it as a ‘DIY’ option, where you’ll need to be ready to handle most issues on your own. This could mean you’ll not only have to install WordPress yourself, but also worry about performance and security optimization. Not all shared hosting options are created equal, however. Your shared hosting plan may include extras like one-click installations for WordPress, guaranteed bandwidth, free domain names, and more. You’ll simply want to assess what level of support you need for your website and make sure the host you choose provides it. Renewal Pricing Hosting prices are typically listed as a ‘per month’ rate. However, it’s also essential that you pay attention to the fine print. Generally, to get the lowest possible price, you’ll need to sign up for a longer contract length. Therefore, paying per month is likely to cost you more in the long run than paying for one or more years upfront. Still, shared hosting at any contract length is by far the most economical and budget-friendly hosting service you can find. Despite its drawbacks, this makes it an excellent choice for small sites and blogs. Industry Standards The industry standard for shared hosting comes in at an average of $5 per month. You can find plans for cheaper than that, however, yet still come with plenty of features. Here at DreamHost, for example, we offer high-value shared hosting plans starting at just $2.95 per month. DreamHost shared hosting includes a domain name, comes with one-click installations of WordPress, and features 24/7 support when you commit to at least one year. There are also starter and unlimited package options for paying month-to-month, as well as for the one- and three-year contracts. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you.Choose Your Plan 2. Virtual Private Server Hosting The next hosting option, which has also become incredibly popular, is Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. This still hosts multiple websites on the same physical server, but each site gets its own virtually-partitioned space. This enables your website to run more optimally and enhances security, but it’s still a very cost-effective method. VPS represents a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated servers (which we’ll look at next). There’s one other major factor to consider when you’re looking at VPS hosting. With this type of plan, you can opt for either a managed or unmanaged service. Managed VPS hosting will provide you with a support team that will tend to your site’s security and performance, while unmanaged VPS hosting requires more hands-on attention. Performance and Security Let’s revisit our timeshare. When you go with a VPS plan, you are ensuring that you can reserve whatever dates you want in your exotic beach house. Plus, it will be clean and ready to go when you get there. VPS hosting can guarantee better page loading speeds and less downtime, as every website gets its own dedicated set of resources. Also, since each site is kept separate, it’s unlikely that security threats to other sites will affect yours. If you opt for a managed VPS plan in particular, you’ll know that your server is being maintained and secured for you. Your site uptime should be guaranteed, and you’ll know exactly what kind of resources you have available (and get the opportunity to scale them up when needed). Service Levels Unmanaged VPS hosting is a lot like shared hosting. You may get a few extra perks, but you won’t have a lot of help managing your website or server. On the other hand, a managed hosting plan provides you with a safety net. You’ll have a team of technicians and support staff who will be looking out for the security and functionality of your site and server. The exact services you get can vary, but often, your web hosting provider will work hard to make sure your website is optimized and up-to-date at all times. Managed hosting is an excellent option if you have a growing website, but are not ready to invest in your own hardware or an IT team to manage everything. You can get excellent results with little to no technical know-how. Renewal Pricing Once you decide whether you want to go with a managed or unmanaged VPS plan, you’ll want to start assessing the pricing options. As with shared hosting, VPS plans will need to be renewed either in monthly or yearly increments. For the best deal, you’ll want to opt for the longest contract (if your budget allows and you’re happy to commit for the long term). Industry Standards VPS hosting will cost you a bit more than a shared plan, but it’s still an affordable option. Prices vary a good deal, but the monthly industry standard is right around $30 per month. Managed plans will cost a bit more than unmanaged plans, although they make up for it in additional features and services. At DreamHost, we offer four tiers of VPS hosting, each with a monthly, one-year, and three-year option. You can start with a basic VPS plan for just $10 per month or go all-in with an enterprise plan for $80 per month. Regardless of your choice, all of our VPS plans all come with free SSL certificates and unlimited websites and traffic. What’s more, these options are all managed, which means you’ll save a lot of time on upkeep. We Know You've Got Lots of VPS OptionsHere’s how DreamHost’s VPS offering stands apart: 24/7 customer support, an intuitive panel, scalable RAM, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited hosting domains, and SSD storage.Go Virtual 3. Dedicated Hosting The third hosting service you’re likely to encounter is dedicated hosting. This is the ‘all-in’ option. Dedicated hosting, or a ‘dedicated server’ as it is sometimes referred to, provides you with an entire physical server that’s reserved solely for your website. While your hosting provider still owns the hardware, this option gives you near-complete control over what is installed on that server and how it’s configured. There are a few more things to consider when it comes to dedicated hosting, including the more substantial up-front investment, but it’s a sound option if your site is well-established. Performance and Security Dedicated hosting offers a lot of benefits for certain kinds of sites. If your website receives a ton of traffic or you handle a lot of transactions on your site (such as with a small business or e-commerce website), a dedicated host might be a smart investment. With this option, you finally have that house on the beach all to yourself. Dedicated hosting offers you speed, stability, flexibility, increased security, and lots more storage. Plus, you won’t have to worry about other websites affecting your site’s performance or putting its users at risk. When shopping for dedicated hosting, you’ll want to know whether you are buying a solid-state or a traditional drive. Along with that, you’ll also need to decide if you want metered or unmetered bandwidth. All of these elements will impact the price of your dedicated plan. Service Levels Now that you’re investing in a physical piece of hardware, there’s more to consider when it comes to service. While you can rent a server and manage it yourself, you’ll need a lot of knowledge about server technology and programming to make that work. Even if you do have the necessary know-how, optimizing and managing a dedicated server can take up a lot of time. Managed dedicated hosting provides the same kind of service we talked about when discussing VPS hosting plans. Plus, it adds on everything you’ll need for handling a larger and more robust website (or multiple sites). This can include a unique IP address, dedicated server backups, and plenty of support. Renewal Costs Just like with other hosting options, you’ll have to decide if you want to pay for your hosting month-to-month or benefit from the savings you can get with a year-to-year plan. Most dedicated hosting providers offer both. Just be sure to read the fine print to determine whether your yearly renewal includes a standard increase. Industry Standards Now that you’re investing in a piece of equipment and the skills necessary to take care of it, you’ll be looking at a significantly higher price tag. Dedicated hosting prices cover a wide range, depending on how much speed, memory, security, and service you need. The average dedicated server starts at around $100 per month, although plans at that price aren’t likely to include a fully-managed hosting package. Our own dedicated hosting is managed and still comes in at a competitive price. If you’re not afraid of commitment, you can bag a standard plan starting at $149 per month, or pay $279 per month for enhanced features such as additional memory and faster processing. The month-to-month price range for DreamHost’s dedicated hosting starts at $169. Get DreamHost’s Most Powerful HostingOur dedicated hosting plans are the ideal solution for high-traffic sites that require fast speeds and consistent uptime.Power Your Site Breaking Down Website Hosting Costs Before you break out the checkbook, it’s crucial to understand all of your website hosting options. With many different kinds of plans out there, and what seems like an infinite combination of services and performance levels, knowledge is power for you as a consumer. When making your choice, you’ll want to understand the basics of the three most common types of hosting: Shared hosting. This is the least expensive entry-point into web hosting, although the services will be basic. You can expect to pay $5 per month or less. VPS hosting. This can be the best value-for-dollar option. You’ll likely pay an average of $30 per month, and you can opt for the benefits of managed hosting for an even greater value. Dedicated hosting. For top-of-the-line dedicated hosting, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per month. You’ll get what you pay for here, so read the fine print and assess your site’s needs carefully. Have you decided what kind of web hosting plan might be right for your website? At DreamHost, we have something for everyone. That includes superb managed WordPress hosting plans, in addition to our other shared, VPS, and dedicated options! The post How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

We Like L.A.: Your Guide on What to Do, Eat, and See in Los Angeles

OK, so the traffic is bad, the rent is too high, and the smog rolls in thick. But still, there’s a lot to like about Los Angeles. It is home to many iconic sites — the Santa Monica Pier, the Getty, the white block “Hollywood” letters, and the Walk of Fame — plus hundreds of museums and enough restaurants and food trucks to bring a foodie to paradise. At the cutting edge in several industries, from tech to fashion to entertainment, L.A. is always drawing in new hopefuls looking for their place in the sunshine. In 2005, Brian Champlin was one of these transplants, moving to L.A. for work and finding a new home. As he and his now-wife, Christina Champlin, sought out new hiking trails, art galleries, and taco stands together, they used social media to document their adventures in La La Land — eventually building a WordPress website and “what to do” newsletter that brings the magic of L.A. out of the smog. There’s a lot going on in L.A. every day of the week. Blink, and you’ll walk right past the best food in Chinatown, miss a beachside screening of a classic film, or lose out on tickets to CatCon. Brian and Christina’s blog, We Like L.A., curates a rundown of things to do that’s comprehensive enough to cure anyone’s FOMO. As longtime customers at DreamHost (we like L.A. too), Brian and Christina use DreamPress to power their site and bring the best of the City of Angels to locals, transplants, and visitors. Do More with DreamPressDreamPress' automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on creating great content.Check Out Plans Falling In Love So what does Brian like the most about L.A.? His obligatory answer: the weather. Can’t beat 284 days of sunshine or the balmy year-round temps. “But more than that, it’s the variety of things to do and the diversity of people and cultures that make up our city,” Brian says. “The physical geography of Los Angeles plays a big role in how it has evolved over the course of its history. It’s big. It’s spread out. The topography and climate change as you move further inland. Neighborhoods are built out instead of up. Some people see that as a drawback, but I think it’s a strength. The pockets of community and culture that have grown amidst the sprawl are what make Los Angeles unique.” An Orange County native, Brian moved to L.A. for a job in digital marketing. Once he started dating Christina — who was born in the San Gabriel Valley and lived in L.A. County her whole life — he was pushed to get to know Los Angeles as they explored the city together. “I think I fell in love with L.A. as I fell in love with my wife,” Brian says. We Like L.A. first started on social media, as a personal project for Brian and Christina. “It seemed like we were always out exploring the city in one way or another,” Brian says, “So we thought, ‘Why not start documenting some of these adventures on social media?’” Echo Park Lake. Photo by Diana Kuo. Their posts on their Instagram and Facebook accounts gained traction quickly. “Of course this was back in the days when organic growth on Facebook was actually possible, versus the pay-to-play dynamic of today,” Brian says. “It got taken to a whole new level when we started developing our own web content.” They moved from snapshots of their adventures to a blog, compiling lists of free museum days, L.A. neighborhood guides, and other events and free things to do in the city. Basically, they built anything they thought might be useful, figuring that others might also be interested. Creating these how-tos and guides to the city they loved drew in the clicks and provided the first hints that they had hit on something big. “A few of our articles went viral on Facebook — thousands of shares, hundreds of comments — and that really fast-tracked our readership growth,” Brian says. “We went from having a few thousand people reading the blog to literally hundreds of thousands of monthly readers after just a few months. We’ve been able to keep up that level of traffic ever since.” Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Your Website and Increasing Traffic Bread and Butter Millions of tourists from around the world flock to Los Angeles each year — and you can bet most of them are Googling “What to do in L.A.?” While search results may bring tourists to the We Like L.A. website and YouTube channel and help them plan unique trips that bring them to the center of the city’s unique culture, Brian and Christina create their content with a different audience in mind. “Our bread and butter are things to do in L.A.,” Brian says. “But we aim to create content that’s going to appeal to people that actually live here, whether it’s peeling back the layers behind a unique landmark or point of interest or writing guides that help recent transplants get acclimated to L.A.” Their goal is to help fellow locals — especially new residents — fall in love with the city, providing guides such as a list of five hikes or 21 things to do during your first year in L.A. The foundation of their work (and what the blog is most known for) is an emailed newsletter with a list of what’s going on in L.A. It goes out (and on the blog) every Monday and Thursday with a guide for what to do over the next week or weekend. “We have about 67,000 subscribers to that service,” Brian says. Are You Ready to be Awesome on the Internet?Join DreamHost’s monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up To track down information for their website and newsletter content, “at first we were literally just picking random things or restaurants that we thought seemed interesting,” Brian says. “Christina was a huge help here, because she’d grown up reading Jonathan Gold in the LA Weekly, following his recommendations, and then developing her own sense of what was good and what wasn’t. Her taste in food is impeccable.” Brian’s strength? Finding the freebies. “Since I’m a total cheapskate, I was always focused on finding free stuff to do,” he says. “People seem to appreciate that, though.” As their audience and notoriety grew, people started reaching out to We Like L.A. with ideas for restaurants to check out and details about pop-ups, art walks, festivals, and more. Today they have an entire email account (tips@welikela.com) dedicated to collecting tips and announcements, and it’s flooded every day with pitches, requests for coverage, and news releases. Even with the time it takes to sift through and follow up on these tips, Christina and Brian still make it out into the city to do some on-the-street exploring. “Still, sometimes our best discoveries are just when we happen to be walking a neighborhood and spot something interesting,” Brian says. Related: The Website Owner’s Guide to Email Marketing Building an Audience Building an audience doesn’t happen overnight. “And converting an audience into an actual business model takes even longer,” Brian says. “But if you believe in what you’re doing, and you’re willing to try and fail many times over, eventually you figure it out. I wouldn’t say we have it all figured out yet, but the progress from day one to now is pretty remarkable.” As their personal project evolved into a bigger undertaking — one that could actually make money — he and Christina, whose professional background is in public relations, found themselves learning about business best practices on the fly. Their combined experience in PR and marketing were a big help, but learning how to grow and run a business themselves took some time. “On a bigger level, the two words that come to mind are ‘relentlessness’ and ‘patience.’ Maybe it seems like those traits might be at odds with one another, but really it’s just two sides of the same coin.” Once Brian realized the potential of We Like L.A., he took a big risk by quitting his day job fairly early into the project, “even though we were making peanuts on Adsense revenue. For Christina, it took a bit longer,” he says, “but eventually I convinced her to go all in.” For the past few years, We Like L.A. has grown enough to become their full-time gig — and they’ve pulled in others to help out as well. “Every month we contract local journalists to write stories and cover angles that we wouldn’t be able to do if it were just us, whether it’s reviewing a comedy show, previewing a new pop-up, or offering our readers a unique round-up of to-dos,” Brian says. Angels Flight Railway. Photo by Christina Champlin. Brian focuses mostly on creating the email and working on their videos, while Christina manages the events calendar and specializes in covering food and restaurants. It’s a true partnership, says Brian, drawing on their complementary strengths to build something readers love. “Every day we try to move the ball forward by creating new content, telling a new story, or sharing some actionable tips for exploring L.A.,” he says. “The idea is that if our content helps people engage with their surroundings and try new experiences, and if we do it in a way that’s genuine and true to ourselves, we form a lasting relationship with the audience that strengthens over time.” Related: Ready To Start an Online Business? 5 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs We Like DreamHost Brian built the blog using WordPress. He mentioned his website-building to a friend who, lucky for We Like L.A., was a longtime employee at DreamHost. Brian’s friend pointed him to DreamPress, a new product at the time. “When you run a website with a lot of traffic, there are going to be hiccups and hurdles to overcome so you can keep things running smoothly,” Brian says. “That’s a fact of life. In the few instances when there’s been a server issue, a faulty plugin, or some other site-related issue, I’ve always been impressed by the responsiveness and helpfulness of the DreamHost customer support team.” Managed WordPress hosting also gave We Like L.A. an affordable way to provide its audience with a great user experience, including quick loading times. This value of using a product with high performance and low cost helped get the blog off the ground. When a new business starts growing fast from nothing, this kind of service is essential. “There are advantages, of course, if we had a dedicated server. But those costs would’ve been prohibitive when we were first starting out. I can honestly say that if we didn’t go with DreamHost, We Like L.A. might never have happened.” A Good Way to Be Amidst the crowded streets and celebrity sightings, L.A.’s claim to fame is the food. “It’s the best food city in America,” Brian says. His favorite place in L.A. right now is Mercado La Paloma, a food hall just east of the USC campus, on the other side of the 110 freeway. “Gilberto Cetina Jr. is one of our favorite chefs, and he actually has two spots in the Mercado. One is Chichen Itza, which specializes in cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork — so good),” Brian says. “The other spot is a Yucatan seafood restaurant called Holbox. Honestly, you couldn’t go wrong with either one.” Right now, the We Like L.A. duo is getting ready to bring on another full-time employee. In the meantime, there’s always “another pop-up to check out, another new restaurant to try, and many more free things to do to share with our readers,” Brian says. “Every week, I feel like I’m trying something new. That’s a good way to be.” Feature Image: Overlooking Los Angeles. Photo by Christina Champlin. The post We Like L.A.: Your Guide on What to Do, Eat, and See in Los Angeles appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Why Should I Use WordPress? 12 Reasons to Choose the World’s Most Popular CMS

Building a website has never been easier, thanks to the modern Content Management System (CMS). Using the right platform, you’ll get access to functionality that can make the process much simpler. There are lots of CMSs to choose from, however, each with its pros and cons. It’s no big secret that we’re huge fans of WordPress, and for good reason. In fact, the majority of CMS users select it as their platform of choice, which makes WordPress the world’s most popular website platform. In this article, we’ll go over 12 reasons why we recommend you choose WordPress for your next website. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get to it! WordPress-Optimized Hosting to Power Your PurposeDreamHost makes sure your WordPress website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 1. It’s Open-Source Software The term open-source software gets thrown around a lot in development circles, but it may not tell you much if you’re not a part of that world. For practical purposes, it means two things: The platform is free. Open-source software is free, which means you can use it for any type of project you want, be it commercial or otherwise. You can customize it any way you like. With WordPress, you can look under the hood of the CMS and change just about any aspect of it. The open-source nature of WordPress is also one of the primary reasons there’s a massive community of developers creating new tools for it. Let’s talk about how else that benefits you. 2. It’s the World’s Most Popular CMS There are millions of websites out there, and WordPress powers more than 30% of them. Every day, over 500 new sites using WordPress go live, and those numbers are only getting larger. With such a massive user base, you can be sure that WordPress’ developers aren’t going to stop developing it any time soon. That means choosing this CMS ensures you’ll always have access to updates that make your site more secure and add new features to it. Plus, there’s a robust community of developers working within the WordPress ecosystem. For example, there are more than 55,000 plugins you can access for free at WordPress.org. Likewise, there are thousands of themes to choose from, which gives you full control over your site’s style. That doesn’t even include premium plugins and themes, of which there are plenty as well if you don’t mind making an investment. Related: How to Pick a WordPress Theme for Your Website 3. You Can Use WordPress for All Types of Projects You might have heard that WordPress is a blogging platform. That’s not technically false, but the way the CMS is built also means you can use it for all sorts of projects. For example, you can use WordPress to grow your business, build virtual classrooms, create forums, run social media platforms, or power pretty much any other type of project you can imagine. If you own a small business, you can even set up an online store with WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin. If you like to get your hands dirty, you can also use the WordPress REST API to feed information to other platforms. That means you can use WordPress to power mobile apps and other cool projects. 4. Learning How to Use WordPress Is Simple WordPress is pretty easy to pick up, even if you’ve never dealt with a CMS or built websites before. Beginners are welcome! To get started, all you have to do is select a theme, maybe install a plugin or two, and then jump right into creating pages and other content. However, the great thing about WordPress is that there are always more ways you can customize the platform. Once you get the hang of it, you can start implementing more advanced functionality to gain full control over how your site looks. Even for experienced web developers, WordPress has plenty to offer. It provides a foundation you can iterate on more quickly, which is far more efficient than trying to build a site from scratch. Related: 11 Best Online Resources to Learn How to Use WordPress in 2019 5. There’s a Huge, Friendly WordPress Community We already talked about just how popular WordPress is in numbers. However, it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a thriving community of people who use the platform (and not just developers). To give you an idea of what’s out there, take a look at WordCamps. These are worldwide events where you can sign up to network with other WordPress enthusiasts, and listen to some of the most experienced people in the field. Likewise, a quick search will reveal thousands of online communities built around WordPress itself. That means if you ever have a question on any aspect of using the CMS, you’ll have plenty of people you can turn to for answers. Related: How to Get Started as a WordPress Contributor 6. WordPress Enables You to Scale Your Website One of the most challenging aspects of running a website is scaling it. The more content you publish and the more traffic you get, the bigger the strain becomes on your CMS. Choosing a quality web host is key to scaling your website and making sure it always feels fast. However, the CMS you use also plays a significant role. WordPress, for example, powers some of the most popular sites on the web, so you know in advance that scaling won’t be an issue. Keep in mind, though — if you want to keep your website blazing fast, you’ll need more than the right web host and CMS. You’ll also have to do some maintenance work, but the results are well worth the effort. 7. Themes and Plugins Give You Full Control Over Your Website If you’re new to WordPress, you may not be familiar with the concept of plugins and themes. Let’s break down what both of them are: Themes: These are templates you can use on your website to alter its basic design. Plugins: These add new features and functionality to your site. As we mentioned before, there are thousands of plugins and themes (both free and premium) available for WordPress. In most cases, you’ll find there are excellent free options for whatever style of features you want to implement on your site. That is in stark contrast with other CMSs, where some of the best ‘extras’ lie behind paywalls. Related: The Jetpack Plugin Now Comes Pre-Installed with Your DreamPress Account 8. WordPress Websites Are Easy to Maintain One thing you may not be aware of if you’ve never set up a website before is that they require a bit of maintenance work. With WordPress in particular, you have to stay on top of the following: Updating the CMS as new versions come out Updating your plugins and themes whenever you have the option to Managing your site’s comments (if you choose to enable them) Ensuring that your website is fully optimized and secure Backing up your site often In practice, none of those tasks should take up too much of your time individually. However, if you want to save time, you can always opt for a managed hosting service. Managed hosting plans get their name because your provider will take care of a lot of maintenance tasks for you. Our DreamPress services, for example, offer automated backups, website optimization, and around-the-clock support. That means you get more time to focus on growing your site, instead of worrying about making sure it’s running smoothly. 9. You Can Optimize Your Website for Search Engines Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making sure your website gets the traffic it deserves from the likes of Google, Bing, etc. There are a lot of things you can do to work on your site’s SEO. However, depending on which platform you use, optimizing your content for search engine results can either be simple or an uphill battle. With WordPress, you get access to a lot of powerful SEO plugins, such as Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, The SEO Framework, and more. You don’t need to use an SEO plugin, but in our experience, they help a lot when it comes to making sure you’re not missing anything. 10. WordPress Takes Security Seriously No CMS or website is 100% secure. New security threats are always popping up, so it’s essential to use a platform that takes online safety seriously. If you want to run a tight ship, the single best thing you can do is make sure WordPress is always up to date. That includes the CMS itself, as well as any additional components you use (such as themes and plugins). WordPress is always pushing out new updates and security patches, so by updating your version, you’ll be a step ahead of everyone else. If you want to secure your website even further, you can look into using a web host that takes security seriously. There are a lot of additional steps you can take to secure your site as well, including enforcing strong passwords and implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). However, all that effort might go to waste if you use a platform that’s not secure out of the box. 11. You Own Your Website and Its Content WordPress is what’s called a ‘self-hosted’ CMS. That means you can take the software and set it up on any server you want to use to power your website. The advantage of this approach is that you’re not tied to a single hosting platform. With a hosted platform, the provider can always suspend your account for one reason or another. With WordPress, on the other hand, you can switch hosts at any time. You can also make any changes you want to the CMS, and you have full ownership of all the content you create. 12. It’s the Industry’s Best Option for Blogging So far, we’ve talked about all the uses for WordPress beyond blogging. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t emphasize just how great an option WordPress is for blogs. At its core, WordPress still has blogging at heart. That means it’s easy to publish new content, manage it, keep track of comments, format your text, and more. Despite its ‘age,’ WordPress continues to innovate. In 2019 its developers launched the new Block editor, which completely overhauls the blogging and editing experience. With the new editor, you get full control over your page and post layouts, which can make for visually stunning blogs. Finally, WordPress offers an excellent taxonomy system, which enables you to categorize large libraries of content. Using WordPress, keeping all of your blog posts organized won’t be an issue. Related: 19 Expert Blogging Tips for 2019 Content Management Made Easy WordPress has a lot going for it. These days the CMS powers over 30% of the web, and it keeps picking up new users. In many cases, people choose WordPress because it’s an easy platform to use if you’re new to web development. However, WordPress also has a lot to offer if you have experience building websites. It’s entirely customizable, and its plugin and theme systems can enable you to build almost any type of site you’d like. If you’re ready to give WordPress a go, you’ll want to pick the right hosting provider to make sure you get the most out of this CMS. Fortunately, DreamHost offers a great selection of web hosting plans that are tailored to WordPress users! The post Why Should I Use WordPress? 12 Reasons to Choose the World’s Most Popular CMS appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

What Is Shared Hosting? The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

When you’re tackling the launch of your very first website, hosting is one of the most critical but potentially confusing aspects. Understanding the differences between various hosting types and plans is crucial for your site’s success, as well as the health of your budget. Fortunately, when you break it down, hosting isn’t as complicated as it first seems to be. After doing just a little research, you’ll be well equipped to choose the best hosting plan for you and your website. In this post, we’ll focus on shared hosting, a popular choice for first-time website owners. Then we’ll discuss some things you may want to consider when determining whether shared hosting is the right choice for you. Let’s get started! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan What Is Shared Hosting (And How Does It Work)? The secret to understanding shared hosting lies right there in the name. With this type of hosting, your site shares a physical server with one or more other websites. To understand what that means and why it’s important, let’s discuss how servers and hosting work. Every website on the internet is stored — or ‘hosted’ — on a server (a type of computer). This is how it becomes publicly available to users. When someone types a website’s URL into their browser, the browser uses that address to determine where the site is stored. Then the browser requests information about the website from the server. The server provides all the necessary data, and the web page appears in the browser. After that, the user can interact with the site by navigating to other pages, clicking on links, filling out forms, and so on. With shared hosting, one server stores all the files for several sites at once and is responsible for serving up information about them. This is the opposite of a dedicated server — a server that hosts just one specific website. Since sites on a shared hosting server take up fewer resources than those on dedicated servers, shared hosting plans tend to be a lot less expensive. The host who owns the server also takes on the responsibility of maintaining it, which means less work for you. However, there are disadvantages as well, since sites can end up essentially competing for resources. Still, shared hosting plans are a popular choice for beginners looking to host their first sites, and for good reason. The small monetary investment and lack of maintenance requirements make this type of hosting an intriguing option. Is Shared Hosting Right for You? (4 Key Considerations) Knowing what shared hosting is and how it works is one thing. Determining if it’s the best hosting solution for your website is another. Below, we’ve outlined four key considerations you should think about when deciding whether or not to go with a shared hosting plan. 1. What’s Your Budget, and Which Features Do You Need? As we mentioned earlier, shared hosting plans tend to be less expensive than other types of hosting, such as a Virtual Private Server (VPS), cloud hosting, or dedicated hosting. Since you’re only using part of a server’s storage space and resources on a shared plan, your hosting provider can afford to offer lower costs. For example, consider our shared hosting plans at DreamHost. The least expensive option starts at just $2.59 per month. This is highly affordable, even for those who have little to invest in their website upfront. Compare this with our dedicated hosting plans. While these costs are still affordable when compared to other hosts’ dedicated hosting plans, they’re much more expensive than shared hosting. If your site isn’t very large and doesn’t drive enough traffic to use up the disk space and resources on a dedicated server, it’s probably not cost-effective to purchase a dedicated plan just yet. It’s also important to consider what features are available with any hosting plan you’re considering. For example, our shared plans come with a free domain, which makes setting up your site simpler. You can also add email services for as low as $1.67 per month. When you consider the savings on these services, in addition to the low monthly cost of the hosting itself, a shared plan is by far the most budget-friendly option out there. If you don’t have a lot of money to throw at your site or you simply want to stick to a strict budget, shared hosting may be right for you. Related: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website? 2. What Are Your Technical Skills? How Easy-to-Use Is the Hosting Dashboard? As a beginner, it’s possible that you may not be very experienced when it comes to managing a server. With a shared hosting plan, this responsibility is usually handled for you. This is helpful if your technical skills aren’t very advanced, or if you simply want to devote all of your time to maintaining the site itself. You’ll also want to check out your potential web host’s control panel. It will be vital for performing troubleshooting, managing billing, upgrading your plan, and other significant tasks. Making sure yours is easy to navigate can simplify your site management process and save you from a lot of headaches down the line. At DreamHost, our clients benefit from a custom control panel. Its navigation is intuitive and easy to pick up. Even beginners shouldn’t have much trouble learning the ropes and getting their accounts set up just the way they like. Finally, another consideration to think about when it comes to ease of use is the plan upgrade process that’s provided by your host. While shared plans are a smart place for most websites to start, as they grow, they usually need to be moved to another (more robust) hosting plan. At DreamHost, we offer a simple one-click plan upgrade process. It’s accessible right from your control panel so that you can reach it at any time. Hosting is a fundamental part of running your website, and you’ll likely have to access your hosting account frequently. Choosing a hosting provider that makes managing your account and maintaining your server easy is crucial if you want to use your time efficiently. Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan? 3. How Large Is Your Website, and What Resources Does It Require? As you now know, shared hosting involves two or more websites sharing a single server. Unfortunately, this can lead to a few problems that may have a significant impact on your website and its ability to succeed. To start, shared hosting accounts provide limited storage space. If your website is somewhat large, shared hosting may not be right for you. What’s more, other sites on your server can grow and take up more storage space as well, pushing your website to the fringes. The same applies to your website’s traffic level. If you start getting a lot of visitors to your site all at once, it’s more likely to overload your shared server than it would on a dedicated server. Likewise, a traffic spike on another site that shares your server could temporarily put your site out of commission. Finally, other websites on your server can also affect your site’s performance. Their size and traffic levels could lead to slow loading times for your visitors, even if your pages are highly optimized. For all of these reasons, you may want to look into Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting plans as well. As with a shared hosting plan, websites on a VPS share a server. However, each site has an allotted amount of space and resources, minimizing the impact other sites can have on your own. That makes it a balanced option in terms of price vs. resources. 4. What Restrictions Apply to Shared Hosting Plans? In an attempt to prevent any one site on a shared server from using up more than its fair share of resources, your hosting provider may have usage restrictions. While they’re primarily in place to help users, in some cases they can cause issues if you don’t know what your site requires. To be more specific, a website on a shared server will typically be subject to: Memory limits. Many web hosts constrict the bandwidth and other resources, such as server memory, that one site can use. If your site grows to the point where it’s taking up more than its share of resources, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan. File restrictions. In some cases, shared servers can become a security issue. If malware infects one site, it’s possible that it could spread to all the sites on the server. To prevent this, some providers place restrictions on the types of files you can upload to your site. Spam and hacker activity. Many web hosts carefully monitor activity on shared servers for security and performance reasons. If there is evidence of spam or hacker activity taking place on your site, your host may decide to temporarily or permanently disable it. These restrictions could interfere with your ability to download specific plugins or carry out tasks such as sending emails directly from your server instead of through a third-party provider. However, if your site is an ideal candidate for shared hosting, these limitations shouldn’t be too much of a problem. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that shared hosting is best for: Small business sites Blogs Portfolios Personal sites Database-driven sites If your site falls into one of these categories, the restrictions placed on shared hosting shouldn’t impact you significantly. Selecting a Shared Hosting Package As a beginner, it can be confusing to sort out all the different kinds of web hosting that are available. Learning more about shared hosting providers and how this particular type of hosting works is essential if you want to make an informed decision when purchasing your first hosting plan. Do you think a shared hosting plan is right for you and your site? Whether you’re a small-business owner, blogger, web designer, or developer, DreamHost offers one of the best low-cost, secure, and high-performing shared hosting solution on the market. Our robust features include unlimited bandwidth and storage, access to our powerful 1-click installer, free privacy protection, a free SSL certificate, automated backups, and an instant WordPress setup. And if you upgrade to Shared Unlimited, we’ll also throw in a free domain name and a personalized email address to match. Choose your plan today! The post What Is Shared Hosting? The Ultimate Guide for Beginners appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips)

Search engines can make or break websites. Getting your site to show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) often isn’t enough. You also have to get people’s attention, so they’ll click on your links over the hundreds of other options. At their core, meta descriptions give potential visitors an overview of what kind of content they can expect. They tend to be just a few lines long, so small differences in the way you write your meta descriptions can be enough to boost your click-through rate significantly. In this article, we’re going to talk about what meta descriptions are, why they’re necessary, and what elements they should include. Then we’ll walk you through five tips to ensure that your meta descriptions hit home every time. Let’s get to it! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan An Introduction to Meta Descriptions Meta descriptions are the snippets of text you see underneath the title within SERPs, as in the example below. The main goal of a good meta description is to give you an idea of what the page is all about. Naturally, titles also play a vital role here, but there’s only so much information you can fit into a single headline. Meta descriptions provide you with up to a couple of sentences to expand on your page’s content. You can either write them yourself or have search engines generate them automatically based on each user’s search query. As convenient as having search engines do the work for you sounds, however, we strongly recommend that you write your own meta descriptions. That way, you get full control over what shows up on the SERPs and on social media sites while also increasing your chances of engaging users. Let’s take a look at some meta description examples for a specific line of shoes. You can tell the meta description below was generated automatically, and it doesn’t give you much to go on. Here’s another result for the same product search, this one using a stronger meta description. It’s important to understand that meta descriptions only give you a limited number of characters to play with. On desktops, that can be up to 158 characters, whereas mobile users will only see 120 of them. Roughly speaking, that means you get about two lines of text. Why Meta Descriptions Are Important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about competition. You compete against every other site that appears within the results pages for a given search, each hoping to get the lion’s share of the clicks. When it comes to the SERPs, several factors determine how many views your links get, including: The title you use Whether it’s a rich snippet or not If it appears within an answer box The position of your pages Your meta descriptions Out of all those factors, you get full control over three of them: your title, schema markup, and meta descriptions. It’s only logical that you should optimize those elements as much as possible. If you take another look at the previous section, you’ll notice just how much of a difference a good meta description can make. Letting search engines generate yours will often result in descriptions that look like gibberish. Related: SEO Trends to Improve Your Ranking in 2019 What to Include in a Meta Description Two lines of text aren’t much, but more often than not, it’s enough to cover a few key elements. Most often, this should include: What your page is about How it can benefit the reader If a meta description is too vague, then you’re not selling users on the idea of visiting your website. You’ll still get clicks, of course, but not as many as you might have otherwise. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted to write a meta description for this article. Here’s a not-so-good example: Have you ever wondered what meta descriptions are? Wonder no more, because we’ll tell you everything you need to know. While it hits on the article’s primary topic, it doesn’t do a good job of previewing the page’s actual content. Now let’s give it another go, keeping in mind the fundamental elements we want to include: Meta descriptions are key to any site’s SEO. In this article, we’ll break down why and help you optimize your own descriptions. Read on to find out more! This is short and to the point, and we even had enough characters left over to include a simple Call to Action (CTA). It may not win any literary awards, but it will get the job done. Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips) At this point, you know the basics of what a meta description should include. However, if you want your descriptions to really hit home, here are five tips to help you optimize them further. 1. Use Relevant Keywords If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the concept of keywords. Ideally, you’ll use them organically throughout all of your content, and that includes metadata such as your descriptions. Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a recipe and you want to optimize it for the search term “how to cook a healthy lasagna.” That’s an easy to term to work into a meta description: Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. Let’s go over a recipe you can cook in under two hours! Including keywords within your meta descriptions is a smart SEO practice. It gives search engines a better idea of what your content is all about. However, as always, make sure to work those meta keywords in organically. That means not stuffing your descriptions full of keywords; make your description still reads like something a human (not a bot) would write. Related: 10 SEO Tools to Optimize Your Website for Success in 2019 2. Don’t Obsess Over the Character Count So far, most of the examples we’ve shown you have come in well under the maximum character count for the major search engines. You want to get some mileage out of your meta descriptions, but in practice, obsessing over the character count isn’t as serious as you might think. To build on our earlier example of a healthy lasagna recipe, you could easily expand on its description to cover more information: Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook faster and feed up to four people. That example goes over the character limit for both desktop and mobile meta descriptions in Google. In practice, it would get cut off and look something like this: Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook … That snippet still provides plenty of information, so you don’t necessarily need to change it. What matters is that you include the essential details early on, so whatever does get cut off is just supplementary information. 3. Optimize for Rich Snippets Most search results look pretty dull — a sea of titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. However, in some cases, your results will look a bit more lively. Those are examples of rich snippets. To create them, you add structured data markup to your pages, providing more information on what their content includes. Search engines can recognize that information and structure your results accordingly. This practice offers two key benefits: Your pages will look more engaging within the SERPs. You get to add a ton of extra information to your results, without needing to count characters. For a real example, let’s take a look at the results for “how to cook a healthy lasagna.” Two of the top results are featured snippets. Without even clicking on them, you can see an image, cooking time, rating, and even the number of calories in the recipe. Keep in mind that not all types of content lend themselves well to rich snippets. However, they’re pretty easy to implement, once you know how to add the right structured data markup to your pages. 4. Avoid Duplicates When it comes to meta descriptions, there are two kinds of potential duplicates. It’s good practice to avoid both of them: Mimicking other sites’ descriptions Having several of your pages use the same description Overall, duplicate content is almost always bad news when it comes to SEO. Moreover, it can hurt your click-through rate if you have several pages competing for the same search terms. For practical purposes, there’s no reason all of your pages shouldn’t have unique meta descriptions. If it takes you more than a couple of minutes to write one, then you’re probably overthinking it. 5. Use Interesting Words Most meta descriptions are pretty boring, at least linguistically speaking. The need to cover so much information in such a limited space doesn’t lend itself well to innovation. One way to make your meta descriptions stand out is by using compelling language. To do that, take a look at what other websites are writing for the keywords you want to rank for. Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking for a cast iron pizza recipe. A lot of the content will be similar, which means their meta descriptions will share elements as well. However, not all descriptions are equally effective. Some of our favorite hits from the above example include the words ‘crispy,’ ‘buttery,’ and ‘chewy.’ There are five results here, but the first and last stand out due to their word choices. Think about it this way — if you’re staring at that page trying to decide which recipe to follow, you’ll probably pick the one that sounds more delicious. At that stage, you don’t know how good the recipe will be, so your only indicators are the title tag, picture, and word choice in the meta description. Search Result Focus When you boil it down, SEO is a competition. You’ll never be the only website within a niche, so you need to look for ways to make your pages stand out in the SERPs. Fortunately, an informative, unique meta description is a great way to catch potential visitors’ eyes. Are you looking for a hosting plan that can handle all the traffic your improved meta descriptions will send your way? Check out our shared hosting options! The post How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist

Choosing a web host can be challenging — especially if you’re just starting your first website. There’s a lot of information to digest about hosting your site, and it’s easy to forget something important when you’re weighing the pros and cons of various providers. However, if you know the right questions to ask, you can navigate the waters of web hosting without fear. There are many excellent plans to pick from. Making the right choice is simply a matter of considering your needs alongside what each service provider has to offer. In this post, we’ll discuss why it’s necessary to determine your site’s hosting needs before you begin shopping. Then we’ll share a 15-point checklist to help decide which web hosting provider is right for you. Let’s get going! Why It’s Vital to Identify Your Hosting Needs Upfront There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all web hosting. Every website has different needs when it comes to storage, performance, features, and price. So before you start looking at plans, you’ll want to determine your site’s hosting requirements. By knowing what you need ahead of time, you can narrow down your choices more quickly and avoid making costly mistakes when selecting your host. Some questions you might ask include: How large is your website and what are its storage needs? On average, how much traffic do you expect each month? What’s your hosting budget? What are your current website management skills? What might you need help with? Apart from storing your site, what services will you need from your hosting provider? Your answers to these questions will eliminate some hosts right away. Then, you can use the checklist below to determine if other hosting options are a smart match for your site. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up How to Choose a Web Host (A 15-Point Checklist) There are many aspects to consider when choosing a hosting provider, and the process can seem overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve listed out the 15 most important questions to ask when evaluating a hosting provider: How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers? Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan? Can You Easily Add a Domain? Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs? Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy? Is There a One-Click Installer? Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain? Will You Have Easy SFTP Access? How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess? What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)? Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel? Are SSL Certificates Included? How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription? Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups? Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7? Now, let’s dive into each question in more detail to guide you towards the best host for your situation. 1. How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers? Performance and uptime can make or break your website. Your website’s performance influences Search Engine Optimization (SEO), bounce and conversion rates, and how trustworthy your site appears to visitors. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the reliability of your server has a direct impact on your website’s bottom line. Any provider you consider should have an uptime guarantee of at least 99%. At DreamHost, our uptime guarantee is 100%, as per our Terms of Service. It’s also wise to check out what performance-related features a given host offers. This can include built-in caching, access to a Content Delivery Service (CDN), and more. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 2. Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan? If you’ve created a website with all the elements it needs to succeed, chances are it’s going to grow. With any luck, you’ll see an increase in traffic and conversion rates. This will likely mean you’ll have to upgrade your web hosting plan. Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan? Most new sites start on a shared, low-cost plan. As your online presence expands, however, you’ll need more resources, bandwidth, and disk space to maintain your site for all its users. A host that offers easy upgrades to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), Managed WordPress, or Dedicated Hosting plan can make this process smoother. If you choose a host that makes it difficult to change your plan, you could find yourself migrating to a new provider just a few months after launching your site. Already Have a Website? We’ll Move It for You!Migrating to a new hosting provider is a pain. Sit back and let our experts do it! We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with purchase of any DreamPress plan.Move My Site 3. Can You Easily Add a Domain? As your digital brand grows, you may find that you not only want to expand your current site but start a new one as well. Alternatively, perhaps you simply like collecting domain names or you want to get into website flipping. Whatever the reason, if you’re going to purchase additional domains, you’ll need a host that makes it simple to acquire and manage them. Choosing a provider that offers unlimited domains ensures that you won’t ever run out of space. Related: The Complete Guide to New Top-Level Domains (TLDs) 4. Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs? It’s important to choose an affordable host. However, be careful when signing up, as you don’t want to get roped into a plan that’s more expensive than it seems on the surface. Some companies will offer attractive sign-up deals for new customers. Then, when it comes time to renew, they’ll raise the price. Make sure to look into your potential host’s renewal fees as well as the initial sign-up cost. Some difference between these two is an industry norm. However, you’ll want to keep the contrast as low as possible and avoid a higher renewal rate entirely if possible. 5. Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy? In an ideal world, you’ll choose the perfect host the first time around, your website will flourish, and you’ll never need to cancel your service. However, things don’t always go according to plan. If you need to cancel your hosting for any reason, you’ll want to avoid excessive fees. It’s also wise to choose a host that offers a trial period so that if things don’t work out in the first few weeks of service, you can cancel without penalty. 6. Is There a One-Click Installer? As the most popular Content Management Service (CMS) on the web, WordPress often receives additional support from hosting companies. Managed WordPress plans and WordPress-related features can be especially helpful if this is the platform you intend to use. A particularly useful feature that some hosts offer is a one-click WordPress installer. Better yet, some hosts will pre-install WordPress for you. This can save you a lot of time during the initial setup. You can also find one-click installers for other platforms, such as Joomla and Zen Cart. Related: What Is a WordPress One-Click Install? 7. Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain? Whether you have a business site, a blog, an e-commerce store, or some other type of website, your visitors will probably need a way to get in touch. Having an email address that’s associated with your site’s domain (i.e., zoe@mysite.com) appears more professional and is easier for users to remember. Checking out a potential host’s email services is a must if you want to incorporate this feature into your online presence. Choosing a host that includes this service in its web hosting packages or provides it for a low cost means you won’t have to set up custom email addresses manually. 8. Will You Have Easy SFTP Access? File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) are vital tools for website maintenance. At some point, you’ll likely have to use one or the other to resolve an error, customize your site, and carry out different tasks. Your host should provide credentials so that you can use FTP or SFTP via a client such as FileZilla. This information should be easy to locate so that you can access it at any time. Additionally, some hosts will provide their own FTP clients for your use as well. This is a nice bonus and can be an easier and more secure option than third-party FTP clients. 9. How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess? For WordPress users, the .htaccess file is a crucial part of your site. It contains a wealth of configuration information that influences permalink structure, caching, 301 redirects, file accessibility, and more. You may need to edit .htaccess at some point to resolve an error, tighten security, or carry out other tasks to improve your site. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, since .htaccess is a hidden file. Even if you can find the file, editing it via SFTP can be risky. It’s helpful if your web host provides a file manager for editing .htaccess, to minimize the risks to the rest of your site. 10. What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)? All websites have the same basic needs. However, if you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll need some unique features. For instance, you’ll probably want more frequent backups and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reach customers around the world. A specialized e-commerce website hosting plan can help you get the support your online store needs at an affordable rate. Some plans — including our own e-commerce plans — will even pre-install WooCommerce and the Storefront theme for WordPress retailers. Related: How to Start an Online Store in 1 Hour with WooCommerce 11. Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel? You’ll be spending a lot of time in your hosting control panel. Being able to navigate around your account easily can make managing your website much less challenging. Plus, you won’t have to rely on support as much when you’re figuring out tasks such as billing and upgrading. Choosing a host that offers a custom control panel can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Our control panel, for instance, offers clear navigation menus. That way, you can easily find information on your site, contact support, or edit your account information. 12. Are SSL Certificates Included? Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are vital for keeping your site and its users safe. This is particularly true if you’re dealing with sensitive information such as credit card details, SSL certificates, and the like. Adding an SSL certificate to your site is usually an additional expense. However, some hosting providers will include one in your plan at no extra cost. Choosing one of these hosts can save you a little extra money while helping to keep your site secure. 13. How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription? Many hosts require a monthly subscription from their customers. There’s nothing wrong with that model, and if your fees are low enough, you might not mind having to pay monthly. However, this option isn’t always the most cost-effective. Other hosts will offer one or even three-year plans. By paying for a longer term upfront, you can often save some money down the line. When comparing prices between hosts, make sure to consider this. Don’t forget that you’ll have to renew your domain name as well. This is usually an annual occurrence, although you can find options for two- and three-year registrations here at DreamHost. You can also sign up for an auto-renewal program to avoid forgetting to renew your domain. 14. Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups? We all like to think the worst will never happen to us. However, it’s best to be prepared. Accidents and attacks happen, and if you’re in a position where your site has been destroyed, you’ll want a way to restore it. Backups ensure that you have a way to bring your site back if it’s lost. While there are many methods available for backing up a website, one of the easiest is to do it through your web host. It’s even more convenient if your host offers automated daily backups for your site, along with one-click on-demand backups. 15. Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7? Your relationship with your web host will hopefully be a long one. Reliable customer support is key if that relationship is going to be mutually beneficial. Making sure any host you’re considering has multiple contact methods and a 24/7 support team can guarantee that someone will be available whenever you need help. Additionally, specific support for WordPress, e-commerce, or other niches can come in handy. Choosing a host with a team that is knowledgeable about the tools you use will ensure that your site has the best support possible. For example, if you opt for DreamPress, our WordPress-specific managed hosting, you’ll get priority access to our elite squad of in-house WordPress experts. Finding the Right Web Hosting Service When it comes to choosing a web host, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider, and your decision could ultimately determine your website’s success or failure. However, if you go into your web hosting search with your needs clearly outlined, you’ll eventually find the best provider for you. Asking careful questions about the quality of the host’s services and equipment, the additional features it offers, and its pricing will steer you in the right direction. If you’re a WordPress user, that direction just might be DreamHost’s Starter Shared Hosting plan. This plan is a low-cost option that’s ideal for small business owners or those just starting out. With Shared Hosting, there’s no limit to the amount of disk space you can use for your site. Unlimited bandwidth means when your site goes viral, you don’t have to stress about storage space. Most importantly, with any DreamHost plan, you’ll be able to answer “Yes!” to each of the questions on this checklist. The post How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Should I Switch Web Hosts? How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate Your Site

When it comes to starting a website, web hosting is one of the most crucial yet most confusing aspects to tackle. With dozens of providers on the market, it can be hard to cut through the noise and figure out which one offers the best plan for you. Fortunately, several signs will make it clear when it’s time to move to a new host. While they’re not so pleasant to deal with in the moment, these issues may lead you to a better service provider that can help you boost your site’s success. In this post, we’ll discuss these signs and how to spot them on your website. Then we’ll explain how to migrate your site to a new web hosting platform. Let’s get started! Have a website? We’ll move it for you!Migrating to a new web hosting provider can be a pain. We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with any DreamPress plan.Choose Your Plan How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate (6 Tell-Tale Signs) It’s possible you’ve been experiencing problems with your website for a while now without really knowing why. In some cases, it may be that your web hosting provider isn’t a good fit for your website. These six signs will let you know it’s time to switch web hosts. 1. You’re Experiencing More Downtime Than Usual Any time your website is unavailable to users, it’s considered ‘down.’ Even if your site is only unavailable for seconds at a time, it could cause serious problems. For starters, downtime makes your website appear unreliable and low-quality to both users and search engines. If your site is experiencing frequent outages, your users will come to find they can’t rely on it to be available when needed. The Google algorithm will account for this, and your search engine rankings will fall as well, hurting your site’s visibility. Plus, if your site generates revenue, you’ll be missing out on income every time your site has an outage. If your site is down often or for long periods of time, you could be losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you’re running an online store, uptime truly affects your bottom line. Web hosting is one of the most common causes of website downtime, as there are many ways in which your server can impact your site’s availability, including: The quality and reliability of your hosting equipment The type of server your website is on, as shared servers tend to become overloaded more quickly than other types of servers. Your host’s security features, since malicious attacks can lead to downtime. So, if you keep finding your website is down, there’s a fair chance your host may have something to do with it. Moving to a more reliable server is the best thing for your site in a situation like this. 2. Your Website’s Loading Speed Is Slow Site speed is also key to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), users’ opinions of your site, and your conversion rate. It’s wise to test your site’s speed every once in a while using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to make sure your loading times are staying low and to fix any performance issues. While a crowded server can certainly slow your loading times, your server’s location also plays a role in how fast your site delivers information to visitors. Servers located far away from end users aren’t able to serve them content as quickly. An easy way to determine if this is the case for your website is to use Pingdom to test your site speed from a variety of locations. If your site loads quickly from some places yet takes a long time to load in others, you’ll know server location is causing speed issues for users in those regions. If your host only has servers in one location and doesn’t offer a Content Delivery Network (CDN), it’s almost guaranteed that some portion of your users will experience less-than-ideal site speed. It may be worth looking into hosts with more or different locations, or ones offering a CDN. 3. Customer Service Isn’t Helpful A solid relationship with your web host is priceless. For starters, there are going to be times when server-related errors occur on your site. In these instances, you’ll need to be able to get ahold of your host quickly to resolve the issue and get your site back up. Plus, you may sometimes have questions about billing or other account details. However, the best hosts also offer support in other areas of website management. For example, many hosts provide troubleshooting guidance for different types of errors on your website or support for platforms such as WordPress. If your host is difficult to get in touch with, provides inadequate solutions, or doesn’t offer support in areas directly related to your hosting account, consider switching to a new provider. While you may be able to get by without quality customer support, at some point, you’ll have to reach someone for help with a server-related problem, so you’ll want a reliable team at your back. 4. You Need More Space Than Your Current Provider Can Offer Most websites start small and grow over time. Your current host may have been a great fit when you were first launching your site, but if your traffic levels have increased significantly, this may no longer be the case. As your site accumulates more recurring users, you’ll need a server that can handle more traffic as well as more and larger website files. Moving from shared hosting to a dedicated server can help, but switching hosts can often provide a greater benefit. Some providers specialize in shared or Virtual Private Network (VPN) hosting and may not offer dedicated servers. As such, if your site continues to grow, you’ll need a dedicated web hosting service at some point — so a switch may be inevitable. Other hosts may have dedicated servers available, but still not offer as much storage as you need. Ultimately, you’ll want to compare plans between companies to see which one offers the most space for the best price. Related: The Ultimate Guide to Dedicated Hosting 5. It’s Getting Too Expensive to Stay With Your Current Host Web hosting is a recurring expense. It’s also sometimes the largest expense associated with running a website, especially for WordPress users working with a free Content Management System (CMS) and mainly free plugins and themes. It’s true that you often get what you pay for with hosting. However, there are also times when an expensive plan isn’t necessary. If your site is still small and not using the amount of server space you’re paying for, or if your current hosting plan comes with several features you never touch, you’re probably paying too much. There’s no sense in breaking the bank to host your website when there are plenty of affordable options available. For example, we offer high-quality managed WordPress hosting plans for as low as $16.95 per month. If you’re shelling out more money for web hosting than what your website brings in, you might want to consider downsizing or switching hosts to stay within your budget. Plus, it never hurts to pocket a little extra cash each month. 6. Server Security Is Sub-Par As we mentioned earlier in this post, hosts are responsible for securing their servers. Not every provider is as diligent as they should be when it comes to security, and hackers will sometimes exploit weaknesses in your server to gain access to your site. This can be detrimental to your website for multiple reasons, including: The loss of parts or all of your site due to a malicious attack that destroys key files and data. Compromised user data, including sensitive information such as private records and credit card details. Decreased credibility, as users will see your site as less reliable if it’s hacked. Investing in secure hosting is a smart move. Even if you have to pay a little extra or go through the trouble of migrating to a new host, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the line. Some security features you may want to keep an eye out for are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, malware scanning, and server firewalls. Of course, no matter how secure your server is, you should always follow security best practices for your site itself, too. How to Migrate Your Website to a New Hosting Provider If you’ve considered the signs mentioned above and determined you should switch hosting providers, you’ll need to migrate your website. This requires you to copy all your website’s files and move them to your new hosting account. Typically, the migration process is pretty involved. You’ll have to contact your current host, back up your site files, then use Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and a client such as FileZilla to connect to your new server and upload your files. You’ll also want to consider transferring your domain since there are benefits to keeping your domain registration and web hosting under one roof. Related: How to Transfer Your Domain to DreamHost As you might imagine, there are a lot of things that could go wrong during this process. For example, corrupted backups are always a possibility, and using SFTP still poses a risk to your site’s files as you could mistakenly delete some or all of them (we recommend users always have a recent backup of their site on hand). These things considered, it’s helpful if you can get an expert on board to migrate your site for you. Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress user and have decided to switch to DreamHost, our managed WordPress hosting plans include free website migration services. We’ll handle moving your site at no extra cost. If you’d prefer one of our shared hosting plans or have a website built without using WordPress, never fear. You can still take advantage of our migration service for just $99. Our migration experts will get your site moved to your new hosting account within 48 hours of your request. You’ll also avoid downtime altogether, so you don’t have to worry about negatively impacting your users’ experience while you move your site and get acquainted with the DreamHost control panel. Looking for a New Hosting Provider?We make moving easy. Our hassle-free, high-performance WordPress hosting includes a FREE professional migration service ($99 savings)!See DreamPress Plans Switching Web Hosts Hosting can be one of the most confusing aspects of owning a website. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know if your web hosting provider is the best one available for your needs. If you’ve noticed these issues on your website and have decided it’s time for a change, consider checking out our DreamPress hosting plans. Our managed WordPress hosting service will provide you with the speed, support, and security your WordPress site needs. Plus, you’ll be able to use our site migration services for free. The post Should I Switch Web Hosts? How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate Your Site appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps)

If you’re in the process of creating a website, either for yourself or a client, you’re likely concerned about User Experience (UX). After all, your site won’t be very successful if visitors can’t figure out how to navigate it and find the information they need. Fortunately, there’s a handy strategy you can use to work on improving UX before your site ever hits the web. By using a wireframe, you can test drive user flows and page layouts, so you know exactly how they’ll work on your live website. In this post, we’ll discuss what wireframes are and why they’re essential in web design. Then we’ll share six steps to help you create mockups for your own site. Let’s get started! Professional Website Design Made EasyMake your site stand out with a professional design from our partners at RipeConcepts. Packages start at $299.Get a Free Consultation An Introduction to Wireframes (And Why They’re Useful) A wireframe is like a UX blueprint for your website. It maps out certain features of your site, such as menus, buttons, and layouts, while stripping away the visual design. This gives you an idea of your site’s underlying functionality and navigation, without distracting elements such as its color scheme and content. The purpose of a wireframe is to maximize a site’s UX potential before it’s even available to visitors. By creating mockups of your site’s UX on paper or with a digital wireframing tool, you can troubleshoot issues before they become a problem for your users. This can save you time and money down the line. Whether you’re planning a small one-page site, a huge company portal, or something in between, wireframing can be a beneficial part of the planning process. Unless you’re reusing a tried-and-true template with a UX design you’re confident in, wireframing could provide significant benefits to your site. After all, effective UX design focuses on getting your site’s key functionality just right. Without a design that supports a strong, positive UX, you run the risk of higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. A wireframe will not only smooth out your creative process; it could also help promote your site’s overall success. Related: How to Optimize Your Website with Responsive Design How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps) Creating a wireframe can become a time-consuming process, especially if things don’t go well during the testing stage. However, taking the time to iron out UX issues ahead of time will give your site a much better chance of success down the line. The six steps listed below will help you get started. Step 1: Gather the Tools for Wireframing There are two main methods for creating wireframes — by hand or digitally. If you’re going with the former option, all you’ll need is a pen and paper to get started. Some designers begin with a ‘low-fidelity’ paper wireframe for brainstorming and then create a ‘high-fidelity’ digital version later. As far as digital options go, there are a wide variety of wireframe tools available. If this is your first wireframe, or if you’re a single Do It Yourself (DIY) site owner and not a designer, you might try a free tool such as Wireframe.cc. This simple wireframing tool keeps your drafts from becoming cluttered by limiting your color palette. You can create easy designs with its drag-and-drop interface, and annotate your drafts so that you don’t forget important information. Another option is Wirify, a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser. This tool’s interface turns existing web pages into wireframes. Rather than helping you draft UX design for a new site, it’s most helpful for website redesigns. If you’re willing to spend a little money, on the other hand, you might look into Balsamiq mockups. It boasts an easy-to-use, collaborative wireframing interface that’s great for teams and professionals who need real-time collaboration. However, it is limited to static wireframing. If you’d like a more comprehensive tool that can also be used for prototyping (which we’ll discuss later in this post), you might try out Prott. Step 2: Do Your Target User and UX Design Research Before you start drafting your wireframe, it’s helpful to do some research. For starters, you’ll want to know who your target audience is. This can help you determine which features need to be most prominent on your site so that visitors can find what they need. User personas can be a helpful design tool for this part of the process. Try creating some for your potential user groups, so you have a reference you can return to throughout the wireframe design process. Personas can also help create a marketing strategy later on, so hang on to them. It’s also wise to research some UX design trends and best practices. This can provide insight into elements such as menu layouts, the positioning of your logo and other significant branding elements, and content layouts. Users find it easier to navigate a website that follows convention when it comes to these features. Step 3: Determine Your Optimal User Flows A ‘user flow’ refers to the path a visitor takes to complete a specific goal on your website. So for example, if you have an e-commerce site, one user flow might be from a product page to the end of the checkout process. Determining the key tasks users will need to complete on your site can help you create the most straightforward user flow for each potential goal. This will help maximize UX by making your website easy and enjoyable to use. That said, it can be hard to get into the mind of a hypothetical user. Asking yourself these questions can help when you’re trying to work out your primary user flows: What problems do you intend to solve for users? What goals might they be hoping to achieve by coming to your site? How can you organize your content (such as buttons, links, and menus) to support those goals? What should users see first when they arrive on your site, which can help orient them and let them know they’re in the right place? What are the user expectations for a site like yours? What Call to Action (CTA) buttons will you provide, and where can you place them so users will notice? Each of these answers will suggest something vital about the way you’ll need to design your pages. Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website Step 4: Start Drafting Your Wireframe Now that you’ve gathered your tools and key information for your wireframe, you can start drafting. Keep in mind that the purpose of this task is not to create a complete design for your website. You’re focusing solely on UX, and how you can create a page that is easy to navigate and understand. To that end, your wireframe should include features and formats that are important to how your users will interact with and make use of your website. These might include: A layout noting where you’ll place any images, branding elements, written content, and video players Your navigation menu, including a list of each item it will include and the order in which they will appear Any links and buttons present on the page Footer content, such as your contact information and social media links Your answers to the questions in the previous step will likely help with this stage of the process as well. Remember to consider web design conventions, user expectations, and information hierarchies when placing these elements on your page. There are also several elements that aren’t appropriate for a wireframe. Visual design features, such as your color scheme, typography, and any decorative displays, should be left off of your wireframe. In fact, it’s best to keep your wireframe in grayscale so that you can focus on usability. You also don’t need to insert images, videos, written content, or your actual brand elements such as your logo and tagline. Placeholders for these features will get the job done. The idea is to avoid incorporating anything that could provide a distraction from user flows and navigation elements that are fundamental to UX. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up Step 5: Perform Usability Testing to Try Out Your Design Once you have your initial wireframe completed, you’ll need to carry out some testing. This will help you determine if it has accomplished its goal of mapping out the simplest and most natural user flows and UX for your site. There are several ways to go about this. If you’re working with a team, your first round of testing will probably take place internally. Each team member should spend some time with the wireframe to see if it makes sense. Have everyone work independently so as not to influence one another, and take notes on any issues they run into. However, there are also tools that can provide more objective usability testing for your wireframe. These tests are meant to imitate actual users, which can be particularly helpful. Just because your team of web designers finds your wireframe logical doesn’t mean that the average site user will. UsabilityHub is a platform that connects designs with real users to give you feedback on how the average visitor perceives your wireframe. It offers a free plan so that even small sites and non-designers can put this tool to good use. For professional designers and teams, there are also plans that provide advanced features to help with more extensive and in-depth testing. Related: Top 6 Basic Elements of Web Design Step 6: Turn Your Wireframe Into a Prototype After your wireframe has undergone testing, and you’ve determined the best possible UX design for your site, it’s time to turn it into a prototype. Unlike wireframes, which are static, prototypes include some basic functionality so that you can test out user flows more realistically. As we mentioned in the first step, it can be helpful to choose a platform that can turn your wireframe into a prototype. Prott, for instance, enables you to create interactive, high-fidelity prototypes from your wireframe. However, if you prefer a different wireframing tool, some platforms focus specifically on prototyping. InVision is a high-quality platform that makes it easy for teams to work together and communicate about mockups. Whichever tool you choose, you’ll want to put your prototype through another round of user testing once it’s complete. After your prototype has passed, you can get to building your actual site with the confidence that your UX will be top-notch right from your launch date. Making Wireframes to Improve UX When it comes to designing a website, solid UX is crucial if you want to set your project up for success. Wireframing your website before you start building pages can help you get UX right before you’ve even launched your site. After you’ve finished designing your site, you’ll need a hosting plan that can keep up with your stellar UX. At DreamHost, we provide high-quality shared hosting plans that won’t let your users down. Check them out today! The post How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

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