14 Aug 2019

Step-by-Step cPanel Beginners Guide | Create, Login & Manage

What is cPanel?

cPanel is a tool that allows you to manage your entire web hosting account. cPanel is secure, updated regularity and easy  to use – making it the perfect choice for people or web masters managing one or multiple websites. 

cPanel is the most popular award-winning Linux web hosting control panel, often offered for free by many website hosts. In saying that, some hosts charge monthly for cPanel, so it pays to shop around. 

cPanel has been around for two decades and is an extremely useful tool for website administration.There is some confusion as to what the difference is between WordPress and cPanel is, as well as why you should use cPanel in the first place. In this article we’ll discuss everything to do with cPanel, how to use it, who should use it, and it’s many applications.

cPanel user statistics are pretty impressive – they have over 3 million customers and support 889,970 live websites around the world. cPanel is the fifth most used Content management system in the UK. WordPress is still number one with 62% of UK websites running on WordPress and just 4.65% using cPanel as a CMS. 

 cPanel is a lot more than a CMS. You can administer your whole server direct from your web browser through their easy to use interface or API. This includes setting up email addresses, configuring domain names as well was managing content. 

This article is meant as a complete beginners guide to using cPanel in 2019, so I’ll keep it super simple and easy to follow even for the complete cPanel or technical novice. I’ll start off with the basics so that you have a foundation to work from. So if you already know a bit about cPanel you can fast forward to the more technical aspects.

What’s the Difference between cPanel, FTP and WordPress?

cPanel – is your server control panel. Use cPanel to set up domains, sub-domains, emails, user permissions, upload large files and databases for your website. 

WordPress – is a content management system (CMS) similar to Drupal or Joomla. 

FTP – allows you to upload files to your website. However, you can also do this directly from cPanel.

cPanel – A brief history

cPanel and Web Host Manager (WHM) are both owned by the same company and are based in Houston, Texas. The first version of cPanel was released in 1996 and was initially created as the control panel for a web hosting company called “Speed Hosting” – now defunct. cPanel was acquired by Oakley capital in 2018. Oakley capital also own Plesk and SolusVM.

What is Web Host Manager (WHM)?

WHM is the master account, under which you can access cPanel accounts for each of your websites. You should see a list of websites (if you own a few domain names). From here you can manage your cPanel accounts. 

What Can You Do With cPanel?

Before you jump in to use cPanel, it’s important to decide if the tool is for you. If you are managing multiple websites, cPanel is extremely useful. Here is a brief list of what you can do with cPanel:-

  • Point domain names to your website hosting
  • Create professional email addresses for your website.
  • Make website backups
  • Upload content to your website
  • Manage your usage and bandwidth
  • Install applications to your server
  • Manage security settings easily 
  • Manage databases and add new databases
  • And much more…

Although cPanel is comprehensive, they have done a great job of making the graphical user interface (GUI) easy to use. You don’t need to use all of the features to benefit from cPanel and their easy –to-use interface allows you to get as advanced as you like, once you are comfortable with the features. 

How Do I Find My cPanel?

It’s really easy to locate your cPanel. All you have to do is add “/cPanel” to your domain name, for example “mysite.com/cpanel”. Once you are there you’ll need to input your username and password, simple as that.

Alternatively you can find your cPanel account inside your hosting provider dashboard. Depending on what web hosting provider you are using, the dashboard may differ.  For example, on Bluehost you’ll find your cPanel by clicking on the word “Advanced”. If you cannot locate your cPanel via your dashboard on your hosting account then reach out to their customer support team. 

How Do I Log in to cPanel?

After you have located your cPanel account, bookmark the login page for future use. You should see the following login screen. You’ll need to set up a secure username and password to login to your cPanel, so keep these details safe to make it simple to login in the future. 

PRO TIP: Make sure to use a secure password as password breaches are possible if you use a weak password. Meaning people could easily access and hack your websites with a weak password.

Want to be a cPanel Pro?

If you want to dive in deep and get pro at cPanel, you can do this for free by visiting the cPanel Tutorials page. Here you’ll find all sorts of information on branding your cPanel (if you are setting up a hosting company or want to make your cPanel look professional). You can also learn how to set up mailing lists, forwarders, manage SSH keys and much more.

Finding Your Way Around cPanel

Great, you’ve logged into cPanel, what now? 

You should see a dashboard similar to the one below.

You’re dashboard might not look like ours but its ease enough to change the look and feel of your cPanel dashboard. 

cPanel Styling

If you want to change the look and feel of your cPanel, you can do so by selecting “PREFERENCES” and then “Change Style”. You’ll normally find this at the bottom of your screen, however this varies depending on the current theme of your cPanel dashboard. 

You should find a list of theme types, again this can vary depending on your host. We’re using the Paper Lantern theme. You can check what theme that you are using down the right hand side. 

If you scroll down to the very bottom of your dashboard you should find the “Change Style” icon.

Once in there you can choose from: Basic, dark, light and retro (we’re using “Basic”)

Reorganizing your cPanel’s Dashboard/ Homepage

Your cPanel dashboard can be customized by re-organising sections, to allow you to have the most used functions at the top. It’s as simple as hovering over the section header – for example the  “FILES” section and then dragging them to re-order the sections. 

What are cPanel Functions and How Do I use them?

cPanel calls each action that you want to perform via their user interface a “function”. “Change style” is an example of a function and “domains” is another example of a function (accessible via the cPanel dashboard). Inside each of the functions you can manage various aspects of your website. 

You can easily access functions on the dashboard by searching in the white search bar which reads “Find functions quickly by typing here”. Begin typing and cPanel will populate your screen with the corresponding function.

cPanel Navigation Bar

At the very top of the dashboard page you’ll see the navigation bar. The far left is the cPanel logo and a simple search to search the entire management system. To the right of the search you’ll see a white silhouette and the name of the specific account (we’ve covered this for privacy reasons). 

If you hover over the arrow to the right of your username then there is a user preferences tab where you can reset your password, change security, change language, change style, update contact information and reset page settings. There is also a notifications bell that lets you know about cPanel updates, and finally – a link to logout. 

Updating Your Password

Make sure to keep your password safe, changing it periodically is a good idea for security. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change your password and keep it safe.  

1. Hover over the arrow to the right of your username

2. Select “Password & Security”

3. Enter your old password in the top box that says “Old Password”.

4. Click the “password generator” to automatically generate a new strong password

Or

5. a) Input a strong password of your choice

6. Press the blue button at the bottom of the page that says “Change your password now” to save your new password.

7. Keep your new password safe by following the “Protect Your Password” tips at the bottom of the page.

Update Your Contact Information 

Make sure to keep your contact information current. cPanel uses this information to keep you up to date with your configuration. You mustn’t use an email address on the domain name that you are managing as a contact email, because if your domain name goes down you’ll not be able to find out.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to update your contact information.   

1. Hover over the arrow to the right of your username

2. Select “Contact Information”

3. Add in a few email addresses that you can be contacted on

4. Contact Preferences (Recommended: select all of the checkboxes)

The check boxes at the bottom of the page are selected so that you get information about any suspicious activity on your account, SSL certification expiry, when your account reaches bandwidth etc… So it is a good idea to have all of these selected so that you’ll get alerted if there are any changes to your account. 

5. Once you have updated your email address then make sure to hit the blue “save” button at the bottom of the page.

Navigating the cPanel Side Bar 

On the far left of your screen (just under the cPanel logo) you’ll find some icons. These vary depending on your web host provider. On mine I have “home” that takes you back to the main dashboard and “user manager”.

Depending on what your host offers, you may have more icons with additional features like “statistics” (where you’ll be able to overview the bandwidth and usage). I don’t have this feature on this particular domain. 

The cPanel “user manager” icon that appears just under the “home” icon in my account allows the management of additional users on your account. Simple – right?! You can check what rights the users have, for instance – do they have FTP access or email accounts? You can add, edit and delete user preferences in this area. 

How to Add a New User in cPanel 

Why would you want to add a new user to your cPanel account? New users can be added for anyone else who wants to manage your websites. This may be a business partner, web developer, colleague or anyone else you want to be able to access your cPanel. 

1. You can access your user manager from the icon on the left of the screen, under the logo (or by going to the preferences section on your dashboard). Once selected you should see the following screen:

Here you can see I have two users – “veganhealth” and “veganhealth_logs”. I am currently logged in as veganhealth. You will see all of your registered users here. 

2. Next to the account you can see three icons – an envelope, a vehicle and a server box.

a).The Envelope –The envelope tells you if the user has an email registered. Grey means there is no email registered; blue indicates that they do have an email registered.

b).The Vehicle – The vehicle lets you know if the user has an FTP account. Grey means they don’t have an FTP account; blue indicates that they do have an FTP account.

c).The Server Box – The server box icon lets you know if the user can access the web discs. 

3. If you are the administrator of the account you can change their password, delete user.

How to Add Users to Your cPanel Account 

1. Tap blue “Add user” button (top right). You should now see the following screen:-

2. Fill in the new user details on the form, including their name, username and email. Account notifications and password reset confirmations to this email address you provide.

3. Create a secure password for your new user

The Services Section 

4. In the services section you can set preferences that will be shown next to your new user as the icons I outlined above. Email, FTP and Web Disc space.

5. Email: Toggle to enable and disable the users email address

6. Email: Allocate the amount of email resources that they have as the allocated “quota”.

7. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol: FTP access gives the user permission to upload files to your server. 

8. FTP: You can enable or disable FTP access. 

9. FTP: Allocate what directory (folder on your server) that the user can access. Like the email setting you can allocate the amount of space they can use on your server.

10. Web Disk: So long as you allocate the correct folder to the user, they can only alter files in that area. However, to be sure, save the Web Disk space for admin users that you trust. 

11. Web Disk: You’ll see that you can select Read-Write or Read-Only. Read-Write allows the user to delete and write over files. Read only is for users that you want to be able to read the files but not over write them.

12. Save User: To save the new user click the blue “Create” button, alternatively you can cancel or decide to go ahead and create another user account.

Managing Your Domain Names in cPanel 

To manage your domain names you need to go to the “DOMAINS” section on the main dashboard. You can simply begin to type Domains and be taken directly to the domain name function section of your cPanel dashboard.

Adding/ Modifying Domain Names 

To add a new domain name to your cPanel account you’ll want to select “Addon Domains” as seen above. Just click the green “plus” sign. You should then be taken to the screen below:

Adding/ Modifying Domain Names 

To add a new domain name to your cPanel account you’ll want to select “Addon Domains” as seen above. Just click the green “plus” sign. You should then be taken to the screen below:

To find out more about this feature you can review the cPanel documentation here.

1a) Type in the domain name that you own in the top field, omit the http://www. And just put “yourdomain.com” – substituting “yourdomain.com” for your actual domain name and extension.

1b) After you have added in your “New Domain Name” the subdomain field will automatically populate with the domain name when you click on it.

1c) The domain root will automatically fill in

1d) Tap “Add Domain” to save your add on domain.

Modifying Domain Names

2a) If you scroll down on the addon domain screen you should see the modify domain name screen (shown below)

If you have already set up subdomains you can manage them on this page

3. Fill in the “Subdomain” field with the subdomain you want to add to your site 

4. Click the blue “create” button to save.

Subdomain Redirection

Once your subdomain is set up you’ll want to decide where it is pointed. 

To do this you can follow these steps:

1. Scroll down to the “Modify Subdomains” section (at the bottom of the subdomains page)

2. Hit “redirection” next to the subdomain you want to point.

3. Add in the url of the page that you want your subdomain to point to

4. Press the blue “save” button (alternatively you can disable the redirection that you’ve set)

Why Create a Subdomain? 

You might want to expand on a certain area of your site, for example a blog or a recipe section. A subdomain gives you more flexibility to add on whole new sections and features to your website.

Create Custom Email Accounts 

You can create professional looking email addresses for your domain directly from your cPanel. To do this simply go back to dashboard and follow these steps.

1. Search for “email accounts” on your cPanel dashboard

2. Click “email accounts” and you’ll be taken to the following screen:

3. To create a new email address hit the blue “create” button – neatly circled in red above.

4. Select your website from the dropdown shown in silver – make sure you have added your domain name to cPanel. If not then add it as shown above.

5. Then you’ll want to enter the email address for your website, for example “info” or “hello” 

6. Create a secure password for your new email address. You can do that with the “generate” button next to the password field

7. Set Mailbox Quota, that will be the amount of data in email format that can be stored in this mailbox. Set a reasonable limit depending on the amount of space you have on your server.

8. Click on the blue “Create” to set up your  new email address

How do I use my New Email Address? 

Good question! Once you have set up your new professional email address you need to be able to access software to send and receive emails. You can do this with either:

1. Email Client – eg. Gmail or Outlook

2. Webmail

Let’s roll with Webmail to start with. Here is a step by step guide to setting up Webmail to use your email address. 

1. Select “Check Email” on your email accounts page – next to the email account you are trying to access. I was offered two options as seen below:-

1. I then selected “Roundcube” which is an open source software that is completely free

2. I can now send and receive emails this way, super easy!

Accessing Your Webmail 

Whenever you want to go in and send and receive emails you can simply go back to the “check email” tab next to your email address and check your mail.

You can also access your webmail by adding the suffix /webmail to your domain name in the URL navigation bar. You then need to enter the email address and password that you set in your cPanel. 

PRO TIP: Webmail is great when you are setting up multiple email addresses as they can be set up free and easily shared with team members. 

Email Forwarding 

You might want to manage all of your emails from a central email address. If so, you’ll want to set up an email forwarder. 

1. Back on the dashboard, search for “Forwarders” and you’ll find it in the EMAIL section

You can choose to forward a single email address or all email addresses for a domain.

The blue “Add Forwarder” button allows you to add a forwarder for a single email address. The blue “Add Domain Forwarder” allows you to add an email forwarder for all emails on that domain.

Let’s focus on the first “Add forwarder button”.

Step 1 – Click the first blue “Add Forwarder” button and you should see this screen

Step 2 – Add the user part of the email address, for example “your.name” or “hello” (eg. If you wanted to forward your email Michael@yoursite.com you’d simply input Michael into the “address to forward” field.

Step 3 – The domain section is a dropdown of all available domain names on your cPanel account. Tap the arrow to the right and select the domain name of the email address that you want to forward. (eg. Using our previous example Michael @yoursite.com – you’d select yoursite.com from the dropdown)

PROTIP: You’ll only see domain names that you own and are on this current instance of cPanel in the dropdown field.

Step 4 – Choose the destination by selecting “forward to email address” and inputting the email address that you want your “address to forward” (email on  your domain) to forward to.

Step 5 – Make sure to tap the blue “Add Forwarder” button at the bottom to action your email forwarding.

How to Set Up Spam Filters 

This part is important, as you won’t want your email address filled with pointless spam emails. Software like Gmail puts spam in a folder, however with your Webmail account you need to set up these filters. 

Step 1 – On your cPanel Dashboard select “Spam Filters” from the EMAIL section. You should now see the following screen:

Normally the spam filter is enabled as standard. However, it’s a good idea to check this and also select what preferences suit you. As you can see my spam filter (Apache SpamAssassin) is enabled.

Step 2 – You can also choose to Automatically Delete New Spam.  However, that means that you might miss out on an email that was marked as spam by mistake. Instead I’d suggest putting your spam emails in a spam folder so that  you can double check it when you want. 

Step 3 – Select the toggle – “Move New Spam to a Separate Folder (Spam Box)” – and the slider will go blue. You can empty your spam folder

Step 4 – Empty your spam box periodically to free up disc space by selecting “Configure Spam Box Settings” and then emptying the spam box folder by clicking on the “Empty the Spam box older for “youremail 

Using the cPanel File Manager 

Use your file manager to upload files, backing up your website and FTP management.  The “File Manager” is a really handy tool for managing all of the files on your site. You can do this directly from the file manager section of cPanel, without needing to use an FTP tool, which is great as FTP tools are a bit daunting for the beginner. 

1.  Search for “File Manager” on your dashboard – select this option and you should see the following screen:

PROTIP: Be very careful, and double check everything when you are in the File Manager section. 

Navigating the File Manger

The left pane shows your root folder, which is the main folder on your website. You can click on the plus sign next to the folders to expand the section and see the subfolders inside the file.

The middle pane shows the files that you have double clicked on. 

2. To Create New Folder follow the following steps:

Step 1 – Click on the “+ Folder”  icon seen below:

Step 2 – Give your new folder a name and decide where the folder will be created – the destination of the folder

Step 3 – Save your new folder by tapping the  “Create New Folder” button.

Using File Manager to Upload Files

Step 1 – Select the folder that you’d like to add your new file to

Step2 – Tap on the “Upload” icon as seen in the screen shot below:

Step 3 – Select the file that you want to upload from your computer. 

Managing FTP Accounts 

In the “FILES” section on your main cPanel dashboard you’ll find both a link to your FTP accounts and FTP connections. You’ll find your main (root) FTP account details at the bottom of the page under “Special FTP Accounts”.

If you select the action “Configure FTP client” then the section should expand and let you know more details about your FTP account. Depending on your host, you might be able to access your root FTP account with the same details as your cPanel account.

Creating a New FTP Account

Creating a new FTP account for people to access a specific area of your server is good practice.  To create a new FTP account follow these steps:

Step 1 – Search for FTP accounts on the dashboard. When you click through you should see the following screen:

Step 2 – Create the username and password for the new FTP account. 

Step 3 – Select the domain name from the dropdown

Step 4 – IMPORTANT – make sure you select a folder that will be the highest level of access for that particular FTP account. You don’t want to leave the field blank as that’ll give the user full access to the main or root FTP account. 

Step 5 – Decide on the maximum amount of space that user will have, you can select unlimited or decide on a quota.. 

Step 6 – Tap the blue button “Create FTP Account”, to create the new FTP account.

PROTIP: You will find the FTP accounts listed on the same page at the bottom. You can search for FTP accounts if you have a lot of them and manage the permissions on the same page.

Create & Manage Databases 

You can create and manage databases associated with your website directly from cPanel. Firstly lets look at creating a database:

Creating a Database

Websites that use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress,  will always require a database to run them. 

You can use either MySQL or Postgre SQL databases with your cPanel account. 

Step 1 – Search for MySQL and then choose “MySQL Database Wizard” from the “DATABASES” section of your cPanel dashboard.

Step 2 – Type in a name for your database.

Step 3 – You’ll then be taken to a page titled “Create database users”, create a username and secure password

Step 4 Select option “ALL PRIVILEGES” to assign privileges to that user. 

To see it, go back to the main page of cPanel and click on “MySQL Databases”.

PRO TIP: You can go in and view/ edit your databases by searching for MySQL Databases on your cPanel dashboard.

Manage Databases & Users

To manage your databases go to the MySQL database section on your dashboard and scroll down to view “Current Databases”.

You can rename or delete a database directly from this section of the page

If you scroll down you can manage users under the “Current Users” heading. Here you can change the user’s password, rename or delete the users.

Software & Installation 

Depending on your hosting package, you might be able to install apps with one click using the “Softaculous Apps Installer” under the SOFTWARE section in your cPanel dashboard.  If you have access to the “Softaculous Apps Installer” then you’ll be able to install apps like WordPress with one click. 

Website Backups with cPanel 

Loosing your website and content can be costly and devastating. Ensuring that you’ve properly backed up your website will keep your website and content safe in the event that your site gets hacked, corrupted or the server dies. Here is a guide on how to create website backups with cPanel:

Step 1 – Search for “Backup Wizard” on your cPanel dashboard. You’ll find it under “FILES”. Then you should see the following page:

FTP client” then the section should expand and let you know more details about your FTP account. Depending on your host, you might be able to access your root FTP account with the same details as your cPanel account.

Creating a New FTP Account

Creating a new FTP account for people to access a specific area of your server is good practice.  To create a new FTP account follow these steps:

Step 1 – Search for FTP accounts on the dashboard. When you click through you should see the following screen:

Step 2 – You can begin a full or partial backup by clicking the blue “backup” button. 

PROTIP: Keep your website backup on a different server or external drive. 

Step 3 – Wait for the backup to complete and then download it. 

Manage Disk Usage 

You normally get allocated a certain amount of disc space to upload files to your server. If you have a great host, you might even have unlimited space. 

PRO TIP: Check your disc space at least once a month to see where you’re using the most  space and free it up by deleting un-necessary files. 

Check the right hand “STATISTICS” section on your dashboard to view your used disc space. 

All in All 

cPanel is really easy to use, even for the complete beginner, mainly thanks to the fact that more advanced options are not shown immediately. The user interface is extremely simple to use and navigate, especially when following the steps in this guide. I hope that you found this guide to cPanel useful.

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13 Aug 2019

Small Business Statistics in 2019

If you’re considering launching your own small business in 2019, I commend you. Turning your dream into reality can be challenging but it’s entirely possible. If you are already a small business owner or are considering making the leap, learning about current trends is an essential key to success.

Check out these small business statistics in 2019 to transform your vision into success.

Small Business Statistics – General

  • In the U.K. at the start of 2018, there were 5.6 million small businesses registered
  • Compared to 2017, the private sector business population decreased by 0.5%
  • Compared to 2017, the private sector employment increased by 2%
  • Around 99% of U.S. employers are small business owners
  • Over half a million (543,000) new businesses are started each month
  • In the U.S. it takes an average of 6 days to start a new business. In China this is recorded at around 38 days

 

Small Business Statistics (U.K.) – Business Size

 

  • Medium-sized businesses account for only 0.6% of business in the U.K.
  • 99.3% of all businesses in the U.K. are classes as small businesses (fewer than 50 employees)
  • Micro-businesses (0-9 employees) account for 96% of all private sector companies in the U.K.
  • Less than 4% are small businesses (10-49 employees)
  • There are more companies without any employees in the U.K. than the total number of business (82% compared to 25% of companies)

 

Small Business Statistics (U.K.) – Location

  • London has the highest ration of small businesses. This is calculated using the number of businesses per 10,000 adult residents. There are 1563 businesses for every 10,000 adult residents in London
  • The U.K. has 1059 businesses per 10,000 residents
  • Regions which exceed the U.K. average include South East, South West and East of England
  • The West Midlands has a growth of 9% during the last year followed shortly by Yorkshire & Humber (7%)
  • The U.K. has an average annual growth of businesses at around 4%

 

Small Business Statistics – Entrepreneurs

  • The main reason why people wanted to start their own business was to be their own boss. People are starting to ditch the 9-5 tradition and work for themselves
  • Over half (53%) of small business owners would rank their happiness at 9
  • 1/3 of small business owners say they feel very confident about the future of their business
  • 42% of self-employed people say they are not planning for their retirement
  • 73% of small business owners are males
  • Over 20 years, between 1997 and 2017, female entrepreneurs grew by 114%
  • 95% of entrepreneurs claim to have a Bachelor’s Degree
  • 82% of entrepreneurs startup funds are provided by the business owner or family/friends
  • Entrepreneurs who are home owners are 10% more likely to start a business compared to those who don’t own a home
  • 64% of small business get off the ground with less than $10,000 startup funds
  • The average income of small businesses is $59,000

 

Small Business Statistics – Pros & Cons

  • 50% of new small businesses fail within the first five years of starting
  • New business startups have a success rate of 37% during the first four years
  • The toughest challenge for small businesses in the U.S. is generating new business in the first place
  • 14% of small businesses fail because they don’t respond or communicate with their customers
  • 74% of tech small businesses fail because they scale too quickly and don’t have the funds to maintain this
  • 60% of small businesses close within 6 months after being hacked
  • 43% of all cyber attacks target small businesses

 

References

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12 Aug 2019

What is a Domain Name & How to Buy One

A domain name is a name and URL that represents your website’s presence on the internet. Domain names are unique and can be registered with a domain registrar. Once you register your domain name, you can ‘claim’ your part of the internet. You can use your domain name for your website address, email address, or both (which most people tend to do).

If you’ve made a start on creating your own website, you won’t be able to publish any of the content without a domain name. When you sign up to a great web host, you’ll need to provide your domain name (or buy one) to launch your website. Without a domain name, your web host’s servers have nothing to reference.

Some web hosts actually offer domain names for free, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

Even if you haven’t started building your website yet, it’s worth getting a domain name. Maybe you’ve been sat down watching TV having a coffee and inspiration has sparkled. If it has, don’t wait around! Domain names are like gold dust, so if you’ve thought of a good one, grab it whilst you can.

Web hosts like BlueHost give you a domain for FREE when you sign up to web hosting. It doesn’t matter which package you go for, starting from £2.25 per month, you’ll get unlimited web hosting and a domain name.

Different Levels of Domain

Okay so this may sound like it’s going to be confusing, but I promise you it’s not. I’m going to use my own website as an example in explaining this one. When you, or anyone else, visits my website, you’ll type in www.ukwebhostreview.com and you’ll land here. The whole URL is known as the web address.

Top-Level Domain

The top-level domain is the part after the dot. In the case of our website, it’s .com and in the case of the example above it is too. There are plenty of top-level domains to choose from which I’m sure you’re aware of. Government websites will often have a top-level domain of .gov and non-profit organisations will have .org.

Most top-level domains (TLDs) are used to represent where a website or business is located. If your target market is based in the U.K. it’s worth having a .co.uk domain. TLDs like .ca and .us also tend to represent the location. If your business isn’t location-specific or you want to attract a wider audience-base then .com is a safe bet to go for.

Second-Level Domain

The second-level domain is located left of the dot. This is also simply known as the domain name. Like I mentioned earlier, this represents the identity of the individual’s website, business, or what it does. My own website represents what I do and what my website is about. Second-level domains should be memorable and easy to type so that visitors don’t end up navigating somewhere else.

Domain Name Usage

According to Singapore Data Company, there are estimated to be 137 million .com domains registered. Around 1/3 are in use and contain relevant content and 1/3 appear to be unused. There’s also a 1/3 that seem to be in ‘limbo’, used for other purposes that they’ve speculated.

In 2016 Verisign reported 334.6 million registered domain names. The registration of these TLDs had increased around 7.9 million from the previous quarter. This represented a growth of around 38.2 million domain names each year. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to get completely accurate figures regarding registered domain names.

Registering a Domain

When you register a domain name, it will be regulated by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). You can actually use the ICANN website to locate a domain name registrar and register a domain with them. The cost of doing so will depend on the TLD and the registrar that you choose.

Registering a domain name can be done in a number of ways. Like I mentioned earlier, you can register a domain with your chosen web host. Most web hosts will offer domain names at competitive prices as they can sell them onto you for discounted prices. As you’ve already seen, many of them offer domains for free as part of your web hosting package. But, you don’t have to use a web host if you want to register a domain.

There are plenty of domain name registrars that are independent to web hosting or other services. The main reason web hosts or web development/design companies sell domain names is because it makes sense to get everything together. You’ll need to create your website (or use a website builder), purchase web hosting and a domain name in order to make your website live.

I’ll let you into a little secret. You can get domain names for free from certain domain name registrars.

Step-by-step to Register a Domain

Registering a domain name is pretty simple once you know what you’re doing. To ensure that you know how to register a domain name, I’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide.

BlueHost domain registration

  1. Choose your domain name registrar or web host. If you’re feeling a little stuck as to where to go, you can check ICANN’s list of domain registrars who they deem reputable.
  2. Check your domain name. Your domain name registrar or hosting service will have a domain search function. This tool will check whether your chosen domain name is available. If your domain name isn’t available, they may suggest some alternative domain names to give you some inspiration.
  3. Provide your details. When you register a domain name, you will probably be asked for some personal details. This is completely normal and your details will be registered against the WHOIS database. You can select whether your profile is public or private, however, you may have to pay to keep your details private (which I recommend).
  4. Purchase your domain. When you’re ready to go ahead with your domain name, you’ll need to pay for it. Most domain name registrars or web hosting will allow you to register your domain for a certain amount of time. This is usually 1 year, but some allow 2 years or more. Prices will depend on your TLD and how ‘valuable’ your domain name is considered.
  5. Link your domain. In order for your website to be visible online, you’ll need to link your domain name to it. Domain name registrars and web hosts will have the tools you need to do this. Most of them will have FAQs if you’re not sure how to proceed.

Why it’s useful to have a Registered Domain

Apart from the obvious, there are several advantages to having a registered domain name. In some cases, you won’t have to register a domain name for your website to be accessible on the internet. Some companies like website builders will offer sub-domains as part of their free packages. For example, Wix has a free plan where you create and host a website for free. They will provide you with a sub-domain that looks something like www.mywebsite.wix.com.

  1. Looks professional. Having a registered domain name (as oposed to a sub-domain) looks professional and adds credibility to your site. Sub-domains are known to be offered for free and therefore don’t look very credible.
  2. Easy to find. A domain name makes it easier for visitors and potential visitors to find your website. Regardless of whether you change website builder, web developer, or web host, your domain name stays the same.
  3. Email address. Registering a domain name often means you’ll be able to get a professional email address for your site. If a customer visits your site and wants to contact you, it looks a lot better if they can email you with a recognisable domain name.

Cost of Domain Names

Now that we’ve covered what a domain name is and where to get one, it’s worth talking about the cost of registering a domain. As I mentioned earlier, you can actually get a domain name for free, but there may be restrictions on length of term, TLD etc.

123 reg domain name search

If you’re serious about registering a domain name with a reputable registrar or web host, let’s understand the cost behind it:

• Choice of TLD
• Length of words or word combinations
• Length of registration term
• Extras
• Domain auctions

Above are some factors which can affect the cost of your domain. Certain TLDs may be more expensive to register than others. Often .com domains are more costly because they are more sought after. This is also the case when using popular words or keywords within your domain name.

When you register a domain name, you’ll be asked for the length of time you want to register it for. If you’re confident about your domain, it’s worth registering it for the longest time possible. On average, you’re looking at anywhere between 99p and £9.99 to register a domain name for a 12 month period.

If you want to protect your WHOIS privacy, most registrars will allow you to do this at an additional cost. This is entirely at the discretion of the domain registrar but usually comes in at around £5.99. As I said before, I really recommend protecting your privacy.

Unfortunately sometimes your perfect domain name can already be taken. There are a range of domain name auction sites out there, as well as domain registrars. You can often find the domain name you want but may have to bid on it or buy it outright at a high cost.

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01 Aug 2019

What is an SSL Certificate & Why Do You Need One in 2019?

What is an SSL Certificate?

Do you remember Netscape? If you’ve been around the tech space since the 90’s, then you might remember Google’s humble predecessor – Netscape, the creator of the original SSL Protocol. 

Netscape released the first SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates in 1995. As the name suggests, SSL certificates are used to make internet transactions more secure. Without this extra security layer the internet is like an unprotected safe that anyone can access. Cyber security is essential for keeping online transactions safe and to protect your data against threats. 

When people talk about SSL certificates in 2019 they are normally referring to Transport Layer Security (TLS), the protocol that is now used to keep us safe online.

How do SSL Certificates Work?

An SSL certificate is a code that is used to encrypt the data traveling from a server to a browser. The server sends the key and if accepted the data that is sent is protected by encryption. Basically that means that all of the digits sent over a secure (SSL) connection are jumbled in a way that only a computer can understand. Making the data transfer hard, if not impossible to make sense of. 

Initially his type of security was only used with logins and shopping carts, before being adopted more widely as people became aware of cyber threats and the requirement for data sent over the web to be secure.

What is the Difference between TLS and SSL?

TLS has evolved by building on the initial SSL specifications developed by Netscape. Both security methods use encryption and appear as the prefix “HTTPS” when seen in a URL.

 The two parts of a TLS are as follows:-

1. TLS Handshake Layer – Performed once in a session selects encryption method (cipher) to use.

2. TLS record layer – Gathers and encrypts data prior to sending through encrypted tunnel.

TLS replaced the SSL protocol back in 1999 to make it free and available for everyone to use. Prior to this Netscape owned the SSL protocol. However, most people still refer to TLS as SSL.

SSL certificates have come a long way since their release in 1995. We are now on TLS v1.2 and the SSL protocol is being phased out. SSL certificates still work in most browsers, but they will be deprecated and replaced with TLS in the near future.

What is HTTP/ HTTPs?

Http means HyperText Transfer Protocol and is the mechanics behind sending information over the internet. “Http” appears as the suffix before a domain name (http://www.sitename.com). When there is an “s” at the end of http, for example https://www.sitename.com then the data is being sent over a secure (encrypted) tunnel. The “s” stands for secure.

An increasing amount of websites are choosing to encrypt their whole website. While previously an SSL certificate was only used to keep specific data secure. There are many reasons for companies to make this choice, not least the fact that people are becoming more aware of cybercrime and demanding website owners to use secure connections. Also there has been some whispers of Google favouring secure sites, making using an SSL certificate a good idea for search engine optimization (SEO).

Pro’s and Con’s of using an SSL/ TLS Certificates:

Pros

  • Protect sensitive data such as credit card details and emails
  • Keep data, whether verbal or written from being intercepted by intruders
  • Stop unwanted adverts from being injected onto websites
  • Increased trust from customers
  • Required for PCI Compliance
  • Prevents a warning that states the site is not secure, which could make customers turn away.
  • Prevents Formjacking 

 

A good SSL certificate will also provide authentication so that imposters cannot “formjack” your website. Formjacking is when a hacker creates a form that looks like it is on your site to gather payment or sensitive data. Instead of the money going to you, the hacker intercepts the transaction with their own payment form that takes payment or details.

Https is great for SEO

Google has now confirmed the correlation between HTTPS and a higher ranking on their search engines. This relationship was backed up by a study carried out by Brian Dean of Backlinko.com. In the study 1 million Google searches were analysed by Eric Van Buskirk to find out what factors meant that sites would appear on the first page of Google. Having an SSL certificate was found to help boost rankings.

Cons of SSL Certificates

Now that it is so easy to install free SSL certificates with many hosting providers, we need to decide if there are any disadvantages to installing a SSL certificate on your own website. Realistically there are not many, however there are a few very minor downsides to installing an SSL certificate on your site as follows: 

  • Cost – it is now easier than ever to get a free SSL certificate, however the gold standard EV certificates do come at a cost.
  • Performance – Due to the extra authentication step required, SSL certificates can make websites take a bit longer to load.
  • Some older browsers don’t support SSL certificates (See below)

Types of SSL Certificate

There are several types of SSL certificate to choose from. Depending on your website requirements, you’ll want to select the appropriate SSL certificate. An SSL certificate is issued by a third party security company and as well as having an added “s” in the browser bar a secure site will show a padlock next to the domain name.

Some certificates are cheap and issued immediately, whereas others like EV take 3-5 days to be activated. SSL certificates come in either 128-, 256-, or 2048-bit encryption. The rule when choosing an SSL certificate is select the highest level of encryption that you can afford. 

There are three main types of SSL as follows:

1. Domain Validation (DV)

2. Organization Validation (OV)

3. Extended Validation (EV)

4. SAN/UC certs

5. Wildcard Certificates

Domain Validation (DV) – Basic

DV is an affordable SSL certificate designed for info/ non-ecommerce and test sites. DV is the cheapest of SSL certificates and is issued immediately in most cases. DV SSL certificates are normally cheap or free thanks to the Let’s Encrypt program.

Organization Validation (OV) – Good 

OV is used by eCommerce stores and is issued in around about 24hrs. OV SSL certificates come with 128-, 256-, or 2048-bit encryption. As the name suggests OV is used to validate business details and is a more trusted solution when compared to DV.

Extended Validation (EV) – Premium

EV SSL certificates are used for eCommerce sites, sensitive data and increased customer trust. This is the gold standard of online trust used by banks and massive websites like Twitter. EV offers 2048-bit encryption and a green bar to reassure customers that the website is safe and their data is protected.

SAN/UC certs

SAN/UC certs are used by people who have several domains that they want to secure. These multi-domain SSL certificates save time and money. They can be used on as many domains as your provider allows.

Wildcard Certificates

Wildcard Certificates are extremely easy to deploy and perfect if you have several subdomains on your site. Wildcard Certificates come in both DV and OV, however unfortunately there are no EV wildcards.

Where do I buy an SSL Certificate?

SSL certificates are issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) and can normally be purchased through your hosting provider. Some hosting providers offer a free SSL certificate tool called Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt was launched in 2014 to provide free DV SSL certificates.

In the future all legitimate sites will be protected at least by the basic DV SSL certificate.  Let’s Encrypt made some great headway in the free SSL certificate for all websites arena and is continuing to do so. Now a newer initiative, launched in 2016 is leading the way. The new project is called Encryption Everywhere and was developed by Symantec, the leading digital security company.  

What is an SSL Certificate Authority?

SSL certificates are issued digitally by a certificate authority or certification authority (CA). A CA is a trusted third party that issues certificates for a specific purpose, normally to secure connections over the World Wide Web. The most popular SSL certificate provider with 39.7% of the market share is IdenTrust, closely followed by Comodo who own 34.9% of the market share. You can normally get an SSL certificate from your hosting provider.

What SSL Certificates are not good for…

Although SSL certificates are great they can’t protect against all Identity breaches. Identity breaches are a huge issue for both businesses and consumers and 63% of breaches are due to a weak password. SSL certificates won’t protect users from weak passwords, so always ensure that you use secure passwords on your account and take measures to help your website members do so. The average cost of identity breach is a massive $3.7M.

Another instance where an SSL certificate won’t provide you with security is when the data reaches your server. To protect the data on your server you’ll need server side protection. Some servers come with built in server side encryption. If you are storing sensitive data on your server then look for a server with server side encryption that meets the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256).

Some Browsers Don’t Support SSL Certificates

It is important to note that some older browsers don’t support SSL certificates. This means you’re your website cannot be accessed on these older browsers. Below I have outlined some of these out dated browsers

Unsupported browsers include: 

  • Google Chrome (older than version 6)
  • Internet (older than version 7)
  • Firefox (older than version 2.0)
  • Safari (older than version 2.1)
  • All Internet Explorer versions on Windows XP

 

Unsupported mobile browsers include:

  • Safari browsers ( iOS version older than 4.0)
  • Android browsers ( older than 3.0 (Honeycomb)
  • Windows Phone browsers ( version older than 7)

Is an SSL Certificate Free?

The great news is YES, you can get a free SSL certificate within minutes. Several domain and hosting providers offer free SSL certificates

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04 Jul 2019

21 Best Domain Name Generators

Choosing a domain name can sometimes be the most difficult part of building a website. A domain name should be memorable but should also reflect what your brand or business represents. Unfortunately, a lot of the time you’ll spend hours figuring out your domain name only to find the name isn’t available. Sometimes it will be available for .co.uk but not for .com. You then have to go back to square one.

But, the good news is choosing a domain name doesn’t have to take forever. I’ve searched high and low for the best domain name generators to save you time!

Domain Name Generator #1: Shopify Business Name Generator

Shopify’s business name generator isn’t just for businesses. They suggest domain names that suit your needs. When you start off using Shopify business name generator you’ll be asked to enter a keyword. This keyword should have something to do with your website or business. For example if you run a bakery, your keyword might be cupcakes.

The generator will produce hundreds of results for you to choose from. The suggestions presented will be .com domains, but of course you can search on other domain registration sites for alternatives. The idea behind the generator is that it gives you suggestions of domain names that might work for you. Alternatively if you don’t like any of them, you should have been given enough inspiration to come up with your ultimate domain name.

Shopify will encourage you to sign up to their Shopify Shop with the domain names that have been suggested. You don’t have to sign up to Shopify; you can register your domain elsewhere and do as you please!

Domain Name Generator #2: Lean Domain Search

Similar to Shopify, Lean Domain Search asks for a keyword to get started. Their generator will produce hundreds (and even thousands) of domain name options for you. All of the domain names that are suggested are available as .com domains, so you won’t have to worry about whether they’ve been registered or not.

Shopify Lean Search includes some cool features too, making the process even more simple. You can filter using the following options:

  • Alphabetically
  • By name length
  • By popularity of domain name

If you like a few domain names you can save them as a list to revisit later on. If you’ve forgotten to save them but can’t remember what you searched for, you can go back through your search history!

Lean Domain Search will allow you to search for your own domain name ideas too, to see if they’re available. This saves time using multiple websites, making it an all in one tool.

Domain Name Generator #3: Nameboy

A little throw back to the 90s in the name! Nameboy encourages users to enter two keywords into their generator. This opens the door to a few more possibilities and combinations. Similar to the other generators, Nameboy will produce a wide selection of domain name ideas based on your keywords.

Their list is extensive and easy to navigate. You can easily see if a domain name that you like is available or not. Sometimes a .com name might not be available but .co.uk or .net is. They’ll also display a list of domain names that are up for resale, so you may still be able to nab your perfect domain name.

Nameboy’s tool can cleverly produce hyphenated or rhyming words based on your keyword input. Sometimes you may have an idea in mind but it doesn’t quite work. This tool can give you the ideas and inspiration you need to make a firm decision.

Domain Name Generator #4: Name Mesh

If you have a few keywords in mind but can’t make a decision, Name Mesh is your friend. You can enter 2-3 keywords for the generator to work its magic.

The tool can generate domain names based on a selection of variables. These include common domain names, different categories, short or similar names, domain names that are good for SEO, etc. If that wasn’t enough and you want to start a new search, Name Mesh will even provide you with some keywords to use. Search using the new keywords and see how it goes!

When you’ve concluded your search, you can filter the results by different types, including:

  • Domain name extension (.com, .co.uk, etc.)
  • Domain names that are unregistered
  • Domain name length

Domain Name Generator #5: Bust A Name

Bust A Name has a wide range of tools to help you find your perfect domain name. You can enter in keywords to start with in order to produce a list of results. You can then choose whether you want your domain name to start or end with your keyword (or neither).

Bust A Name allows you to choose how natural you want your domain name to be. You can also define a character limit (long domains can affect SEO). You can select whether or not you want to see taken domain names (perhaps for inspiration) and filter by extension like .com or .org.

If you have no clue where to start and don’t have any keywords, you can make a random domain name search. This will show available domain names and may give you the push you need to get creative.

Domain Name Generator #6: NameStall

You can start searching for a domain name with NameStall’s domain name generator. Simply enter a keyword and add your own filters to help you find the right domain. You can filter by popular keywords, categories, or types of words.

Similar to Bust A Name, you can choose whether the keyword should go at the start or end of the domain name. You may opt to have a hyphen in your domain name if it makes it easier to read or remember.

Once you’ve entered the relevant details, the list will show both taken and available domain names. If you want to register a new domain name you can do so through NameStall. Again, you don’t have to go through them if you don’t want to.

Domain Name Generator #7: Panabee

It’s cute interface will surely get a look in. Panabee provides a wealth of features including a domain search tool, domain name generator and a business name generator. You can enter in two keywords to start the domain name search.

The generator will present a wealth of suggestions for you to start deliberating over. If your chosen extension or domain name isn’t available, you can use a domain name registrar to search for more.

If you’re not interested in the search results from Panabee, you can search for similar or related names. This may spark some inspiration to hammer the nail in the coffin. Uniquely, Panabee will tell you if your domain name is being used across any social media accounts as a user or profile name (snazzy)!

Domain Name Generator #8: Name Station

Name Station has been mentioned on various popular platforms like SEOMoz, Mashable and TechCrunch to name a few. For this reason, I wanted to check it out (can you blame me)!

When you land at Name Station you’ll need to create a free account to get started. A bit annoying but it’s free so I can’t really complain too much. You can sign up using your email address or via social media on Facebook.

Once you’re signed up you’ll be able to use their domain name generator, check the availability of domains, and get keyword suggestions. Like most other generators, you can filter by extension, name length, and even search by categories.

Domain Name Generator #9: Domains Bot

At Domains Bot you can search for domain names as well as getting suggestions for domain names. Using their domain name generator is easy; enter a keyword and let the tool do the rest! You’ll get a list of domains related to your keyword, similar to your keyword, and even combining your keyword.

You may even find that you want to use new search terms after being inspired by some of Domains Bot’s suggestions. If you already have a domain name in mind, you can search to see if it’s available.

If your chosen domain name is available you can register it through the many registrar links, like GoDaddy. You’ll get suggestions on similar domain names before you commit to buying one (or it may confuse you even more)!

Domain Name Generator #10: Dot-o-mator

Dot-o-mator is a solid choice if you have no clue as to what your domain name should be. Trust me, we’ve all been there when you’ve got a business idea but don’t know how to brand it!

Start by choosing two categories – these will form the start and end of your domain name. Click search and you’ll be presented with a whole bunch of random domain names to choose from.

If you’re lucky enough to have some ideas in mind, you can search using your own search terms too. If you have a few domain names you like the sound of you can save them for later. This is always a good option if you’re not sure whether the domain is available or not.

Domain Name Generator #11: Domain Puzzler

Domain Puzzler offers a simple and easy to use interface. There’s plenty of options to choose from, but they do present an ‘easy’ option to get started with. All you need to do is enter your keywords and desired domain extensions (.co.uk, .com, etc.).

Once you hit search you’ll be presented with your list of domain name ideas and suggestions. What’s nice about Domain Puzzler is that they allow you to enter multiple keywords as opposed to one or two like other domain name generators.

Your keywords will be used to combine into multiple variations. You can save the domain names you like to your list so you can come back later if you want. There’s even a tool so you can compare the page rank of different domain names which is very useful!

Domain Name Generator #12: Impossibility

Impossibility is unique in the fact you can do a lot more within your domain name search. Once you’ve entered your keyword you can then add verbs, nouns and adjectives to your search. There’s a range of 4 letter, 5 letter and 6 letter options.

If you don’t want to be constrained you can choose to combine anything with your specified keyword. This makes for a lot more variety and hopefully will make finding your perfect domain name much easier.

If you like one of the domain names suggested it’s easy to click on the link to purchase. You don’t need to purchase through Impossibility, as always you can use a domain name registrar like GoDaddy or 1&1 (IONOS).

Domain Name Generator #13: Cool Name Ideas

A cool name and a cool tool. Cool Name Ideas is a business name generator with a built in domain name search. You can generate business names and it will tell you if the domain name is available or not.

One of the fun things about this generator is that you can enter in filters like:

  • Business size
  • Customer base

These will then be put into the generator to make even more relevant name ideas in your results. You can play with the advanced features too in order to limit character length and other customisation options.

Similar to some other domain name generators, you can see if social media names like Twitter handles are taken before purchasing your domain name.

Domain Name Generator #14: DomainWheel

DomainWheel has an attractive user interface, entering into the modern world of domain name generators. Start by entering your keyword (there’s already some suggestions) and search your domain.

You don’t just have to pick one keyword, you can enter several to get a good mix of domain names. I personally find more keywords generate more creative ideas. Once you’ve chosen a domain name, other options will appear. For example words that rhyme with your keywords or domain, different combinations, or even just randomly generated domain names.

When you’ve chosen your domain name you can register it to ensure no one else takes it. There are plenty of places to register a domain name, and even some sites that allow you to register a domain for free!

Domain Name Generator #15: Instant Domain Search

Do you already have a domain name in mind? If so, Instant Domain Search is a great place for you. If you know your domain already, simply enter it into the search bar to see if it’s available. The generator won’t give you new domain names based on a keyword search.

It will however provide alternatives if your chosen domain name has already been taken. But, if you desperately want the domain name you had in mind, the site will locate who owns the domain name that’s currently not available.

This might seem a bit strange but often people will buy domain names to sell them on for more. A catchy domain name is gold dust and people will pay a lot to nab a good one on the market.

Domain Name Generator #16: iwantmyname

Very similar to Instant Domain Search, iwantmyname is a place to search to see if your domain name is available. It’s got a simple user interface so you can easily see which domains are available and which ones aren’t. The green smiley face indicates if your domain name is available to purchase.

If your domain name is already taken (which is admittedly a right bummer), it will suggest alternatives through its generator. You can’t enter in keywords to generate new ideas but it will present similar domains.

Unfortunately you can’t track down who owns the domain name if it’s already taken like Instant Domain Search. You’ll just have to find a suitable alternative for now.

Domain Name Generator #17: DomainTyper

DomainTyper is a unique domain name generator and social network checker. I’ve mentioned that a few domain name generators can search to see if your domain name is available as well as checking if the username is available on Twitter or Facebook.

DomainTyper does it all! Type your chosen domain name into the search bar and it will see if it’s available. It will check a wide range of extensions where you can favourite the ones you like. If your name isn’t available you can make an offer to the person who currently owns it.

It also has its own generator to help you come up with some fun ideas. If you’re lacking inspiration this is a good place to start. Once you’ve found the perfect domain name you can check it against social media channels. It will see whether the username is already in use on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and more.

Domain Name Generator #18: WORDOID

If you’re struggling with a business name in the first place, WORDOID is a great starting point. It will generate a huge list of words to get your creative juices flowing. Although this might sound pretty random, sometimes the best names can come from a randomised tool.

Alongside the list of names, WORDOID will search to see if your domain name is available. It will check GoDaddy to see if they are taken or not and then how to buy them. If you want to enter in your own keyword to start the ball rolling, this tool won’t allow you to do so.

You can filter through the domain names to make the search a little less random. Filters include word length, resemblance match to real words, patterns and more. Uniquely, this domain name generator actually works in multiple languages. These include English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

Domain Name Generator #19: Domainr

Domainr is a tool that is partnered with ICANN. When you search for a domain the list will show you whether a domain is taken or not. It will also display what alternatives there are if it is taken. For example helloworld.com might not be available but helloworld.uk is available.

If you don’t have a domain name in mind already, this won’t be right for you. This isn’t a generator that will make up names for you. It will simply display if your domain names are available or not and allow you to buy them.

Domain Name Generator #20: Domain Hole

Domain Hole is a tool I’d recommend if you don’t have a domain name in mind. Also if you have no keywords this will help you to find the perfect domain name. There’s plenty of features that other generators don’t feature so let’s take a look.

One thing I find is that people will have a domain name they want but it’s not available. Domain Hole can tell you if a domain name is due to expire shortly. You may see this and decide to hold on rather than instantly buy an alternative.

You can search for domains with domain and page ranking authorities. Other feature include backlinks and page flow. Domain Hole does require you to register a free account which is a minor annoyance.

Domain Name Generator #21: NameSmith

NameSmith is advertised as a business name generator. However it works great as a domain name generator which produces fantastic ideas from keywords. With nose domain name generators you can filter names by different types and categories.

With NameSmith they offer quite a bit more! Some of the filters include:

  • Prefixes
  • Suffixes
  • Fantasy names
  • Misspelled names
  • Rhymes
  • Portmanteaus

This makes things a little more interesting. I found that my creative brain started ticking a lot more from what they offered. Although you may not have considered this, NameSmith vow never to use your ideas or keywords by selling them on.

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28 Jun 2019

Best WordPress Page Builders Compared

If you’re trying to find an easy way to build your WordPress website, we’ve put together the best WordPress page builders and compared them. WordPress page builder plugins are super handy if you want a professional-looking website FAST!

WordPress page builders enable you to create, edit and customise your website without the need to learn code. But with the amount of page builder plugins available, how will you know which is the best one to use? That’s why we’ve taken the time to install each page builder plugin mentioned in this article to give you an honest and unbiased opinion of it.

Why use a drag and drop page builder for WordPress?

If you’ve never created a blog or website before, building your website from scratch can be overwhelming. Although WordPress is a powerful place to build a website, it can take sometime to learn. Even now I still struggle with elements of it and I’ve been using it for years.

When you download a theme from WordPress or other sources, customising it can be difficult without any coding knowledge. When you’ve used other website builders like Wix and Weebly, you may wish that WordPress had drag and drop functionality.

Although WordPress isn’t a drag and drop website builder, you can install plugins that make it so. As you can imagine, because WordPress is open-source, there’s plenty of great (and not so great) plugins available. This is why I felt the need to compare them! Below is a list of the best drag and drop page builders for WordPress (in no particular order).

What about WordPress block editor (Gutenberg)?

The WordPress block editor (also known as Gutenberg), recently became WordPress’s default editor. As the name suggests, the block editor uses blocks (or elements) that you can drag and drop onto your site.

People seem to be questioning whether the block editor counts as a page builder in itself. If so, would there be any need for other drag and drop page builder plugins?

If you’re looking to create beautifully designed WordPress websites and layouts, my suggestion is to use a page builder plugin. The block editor, although good, isn’t a match for the list below.

Potentially in the future you could combine some plugins with Gutenberg and not have to spend money on a drag and drop editor. However, in its current state, I would suggest using one of the recommended plugins below.

#1: Divi

Divi is a plugin for WordPress that combines a drag and drop theme creator and page builder. Divi is incredibly easy to use which is why I love it so much (and recommend it). There’s well over 20 templates to get started with to kickstart your inspiration.

Divi is a perfect option for beginners due to its WYSIWYG nature. It’s visual editor makes it easy to get started on any website in minutes. Whilst you’re developing your site, you can preview all of your work immediately without having to save drafts and click on separate previews.

There’s almost 50 content modules to play around with (and use of course). You can drag and drop these anywhere on the layout of your site, and remove them in the same way. You can customise each element and there’s even advanced settings if you’re feeling adventurous.

One the features I find unique about Divi is the fact you can save layouts for later use. If you’ve created something that you love but don’t want to use it right now, simply save your Divi layout and retrieve it another time.

Although the Divi builder supports the Divi theme, you can use it with any WordPress theme making it very versatile.

For just $89 per year, you’ll have unlimited access to Divi, Extra, Bloom, Monarch and more. Alternatively if you want lifetime access it will cost you $249 as a one off fee. This is easily one of the most affordable page builder plugins on the market.

#2: Elementor

You’ve probably heard of Elementor before. It’s extremely popular for many WordPress users. Elementor is a live drag and drop page builder. You can see your changes in real-time as you’re creating and editing your website.

Creating sections is really easy. All you need to do is choose the number of columns for each section and get cracking! The drag and drop functionality is pretty self explanatory. A selection of widgets are available to use; simply drag and drop them onto your site.

One of Elementor’s defining features for me is the extent of their widgets. There’s SO many to choose from including basic text widgets, sliders, testimonials, icons and social media. You can customise each widget within its own settings, as well as using third party widgets. By third party I mean other plugins that aren’t Elementor.

Much like Divi, Elementor comes with a selection of templates to start building from. If you’re stuck for inspiration, these are a good place to start. You can edit any of the elements on the templates or replace them with a choice of your own.

Elementor does have a FREE version, but it’s limited. You’ll have access to 30 basic widgets and the page builder, but nothing else. The pro version starts from $49 per year for 1 site. Or $99 per year for 3 sites. If you want to use Elementor on up to 1,000 sites it will cost you $199 which is only slightly less than Divi’s unlimited lifetime plan.

#3: Beaver Builder

Beaver Builders is pretty great from the offset. There’s an onboarding tour to get you stared so you can quickly learn the interface. The premium page builder is very fast and powerful and boasts a live drag and drop interface.

As with some other drag and drop page builders, you can see your changes as you make them. I found it was really easy to use, dragging and dropping elements from the sidebar. You can also customise any of the elements by clicking on them to make them more to your own liking.

Regardless of what you want to use Beaver Builder for, there’s elements to suit almost every user. From sliders to carousels, buttons to content blocks. You’ll find over 30 templates to get you started if you want something pre-built.

Beaver Builder is compatible with the latest version of WordPress (which is always a relief). You can try out a live demo of Beaver Builder before you buy it. The standard plan will cost you $99 but won’t include Beaver Builder themes or be multisite capable. The Pro version costs $199 and Agency costs $399.

#4: Visual Composer

Visual Composer‘s site builder is very user friendly and offers a simple drag and drop tool. You can use the available elements to build your website the way you want it.

It offers a front end editor so you can see your changes as you make them. Unlike any of the other plugins mentioned in this list so far, Visual Composer gives you the option of advanced editing. You can edit your logo, headers and footers, menus and more.

When you drag and drop an element on your site, you can edit the element. This allows you to customise anything in the way you want to. The editor itself is easy to use and understand. You can add and edit backgrounds, carousels, slideshows, videos etc.

I’ve used Visual Composer with many WordPress themes and can vouch for its compatibility. You can switch and change themes without worrying about losing your data. There’s support for the new Gutenberg editor, Yoast SEO, and Google Fonts.

Visual Composer have a free version of their plugin which gives you lifetime access but of course has limitations. Pricing plans start from $59 per year which gives you access for one website, premium elements, templates etc. For 3 websites it will cost you $149, or $349 for agencies with unlimited websites.

#5: Themify

Themify is actually a theme shop where you can purchase said themes. Themify Builder is included with all themes but you can install it separately as a solo page builder.

Themify Builder has a selection of pre-built modules to get you started with straight away. My experience of it is that it’s very intuitive and easy to use. My only real gripe with it is that a lot of the modules require you to install other plugins for them to work.

Themify comes with over 40 layouts that are ready to use. Of course you can customise them, but if you want something out of the box, it’s there for the taking. There’s plenty of versatility, with themes covering gyms, restaurants and even online stores.

Themify Builder is quick to get the hang of. You can build landing pages within minutes and get your site live in a few simple steps. Similar to Divi, you can make changes to your site in the live environment. I’ve never had any issues with Themify and found it to be very reliable.

The Themify Builder is free to download and works with any WordPress theme. If you want a theme to go with it, 1 theme will cost $59 and offer 1 year support. If you want a bit more for your money the Master Club will cost you $89 and comes with 42 themes, photoshop files, plugins and more. The Lifetime Club costs $249 and as it says on the tin, lasts a lifetime.

#6: SiteOrigin

SiteOrigin is one of the more popular site builder plugins, statistically. It has over 1 million active installations as it offers a responsive drag and drop page builder experience that’s easy to use. When I’ve used SiteOrigin, regardless of the device I was using, the page builder ensured the layout was responsive (great for SEO).

One of the main reasons SiteOrigin is so popular is because it’s free. Who doesn’t love free?! Some users have reported that they’ve struggled with getting used to the plugin to begin with, but once you get used to it there shouldn’t be any issues.

With SiteOrigin you can use WordPress’s own widgets to your hearts desire. The plugin comes with a few of its own widgets too, but you can install any others should you wish. One of my favourite features of SiteOrigin is the history tool. You can undo and redo changes you’ve made so you don’t have to worry about losing any work.

The Best WordPress Page Builder Plugins

Comparing the best page builder plugins for WordPress was very enjoyable. I mean, at times it wasn’t easy, as they all have really good points to them. Going through each one, the clear winner for me has to be Divi.

Divi is ideal for beginners and experts alike. There’s plenty of content modules, templates, and their drag and drop functionality is one of the best. A lifetime licence will cost you $249 and gives you some awesome features. If you’re building lots of sites, I’d highly recommend it.

That being said, I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the other drag and drop page builder plugins. They all have their own unique features which may suit some users better than others. They are most definitely worth a look at, even if you opt for a free version (or trial if they offer it).

So, that’s it – the best WordPress Page Builders compared (for 2019 so far). I’m going to keep my eyes peeled and will keep testing out and installing plugins throughout the year. If things change or if I discover anything new, I’ll be sure to update this list.

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26 Jun 2019

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website?

People often ask me how much it costs to build a website. The honest answer is that it varies. The real cost depends on your own wants/needs and your budget. Building a website can be done in a number of ways, not all of which are expensive.

What do you need to build a website?

First it’s important to establish what you actually need to build a website. In most cases you won’t even need to hire a web designer or web developer to do the work for you. You can save a lot of money by doing the work yourself (yes I know that sounds daunting).

Even if you don’t have a tech bone in your body, you can still build a website. That being said, if you don’t have a clue to begin with, you may take the wrong direction. That’s why I’m writing this guide so you don’t overspend and you don’t head the wrong way.

The main elements to start any website are:

  • Domain name (the name of your website, e.g. ukwebhostreview.com)
  • Web hosting (the people who host your website on the internet)
  • Website builder (if you want to create a website yourself)

Domain name

Choosing your website’s domain name should be the first step. You’ll need to know what your website is about and what it’s trying to achieve. Ideally your domain name should give potential visitors an idea of what your site is about before they’ve even landed.

There are plenty of sites that offer domain names for cheap. There’s also somewhere you can get a domain name for free! Most sites will give you the licence to your domain name for 1 year. Some may offer a longer period so take note. Once you purchase a domain name you have the right to use it and host your own website.

Web Hosting

Web hosting provides a secure place for all your website’s content and files to be stored. Choosing the best web hosting shouldn’t be difficult with our help!

When your site visitors type in your domain name, they’ll be taken to your website. Your website is hosted by your web host, therefore should be the best it can be for your needs.

There’s a whole bunch of different web hosting options available. Dependent on what your needs are, you may consider shared hosting, WordPress hosting, cheap hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, or even dedicated hosting.

When deciding on a web host, you may want to consider the following:

 

  • Uptime guarantee (this ensures your website is live and visible to the world. A guarantee of at least 99.9% is recommended)
  • Cost (web hosting doesn’t have to be costly, but the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Weigh up the cost with other factors)
  • Features (find a web host that offers the right features for you)
  • Performance (if your site doesn’t have a good performing web host, you may lose visitors)

Website Builders

If you want to create your own website, I recommend using a website builder like WordPress or Wix. It doesn’t matter what your skill set is, website builders, make it easy to create your own website.

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a newbie, making a website the way you want it has never been easier. What’s more, when you sign up to a website builder, you’ll likely have access to handy SEO tools. Although website builders won’t be able to do it all for you, they’re a great way to pick up some hints and tips. Basic SEO features can be learned quickly and expanded on.

I recommend using the self-hosted version of WordPress. With over 30% of the web now powered by WordPress, there’s a reason it’s so popular. You’ll have complete control of your website and can choose one of their many free or premium paid themes. Whether you’re starting a blog or small business, or a large corporation, WordPress is a suitable option.

Signing up to WordPress.org is FREE. All you’ll need is your own domain name and web hosting. Most web hosts will actually install WordPress on your server for you, saving time and effort. You can browse thousands of themes and plugins via WordPress itself. Alternatively, there’s a whole bunch of resources available on the internet for you to peruse.

How much does building a website cost?

As I mentioned earlier, it depends on your needs. Using the methods mentioned above, it can cost anywhere from £50 up to a couple of hundred £. The bulk of the cost will come from your theme/template or the website builder you choose. That being said, compared to hiring a web developer that could cost you £5000+, it’s pretty affordable!

If you’re planning on building a small website, you’ll need to budget for the following:

  • Domain name (.com domain usually around £9.99 per year)
  • Web hosting (from as little as 80p per month with Hostinger)
  • SSL certificate (around £120 per year)

I’d personally recommend signing up to a web host who offers all the above for a fraction of the cost. Signing up to SiteGround will cost you £2.95 per month. You’ll get a free domain name and SSL certificate for the year! If you’ve already got hosting elsewhere, they’ll migrate your websites for free with an average uptime of 100% (in my own tests).

Once you’re signed up, you can install WordPress for free. Some web hosts will pre-install plugins for you, but I’d highly recommend the following to get you started:

  • Yoast SEO: Improve SEO on WordPress for free
  • W3 Total Cache: Improve speed and performance on your WordPress site
  • Akismet: Prevent unwanted spam comments on your WordPress site and blog
  • MonsterInsights: Connect your WordPress site to Google Analytics

How much does building an online store cost?

Creating a small basic website and an online store are very different things. What works for one likely won’t work for the other. That’s why I’m here to explain the difference for you!

Building an online store is a venture that’s going to be worthwhile. eCommerce is growing rapidly and is accounting for a large proportion of retail sales. If you’re looking to create an online store, now is definitely a good time to do so.

Similar to creating a standard website, your eCommerce site will need a domain name and web hosting. If you choose to use an eCommerce platform, they’ll cover the web hosting side so you don’t have to worry about that.

I would personally recommend signing up to Wix. They are the best eCommerce platform in my experience. I’d never created an online store before but found it super easy to do so using Wix. They’ve got over 100 million users so they must be doing something right!

Wiz’s eCommerce prices start from just £14 per month. You’ll get unlimited bandwidth, 20GB storage, a FREE domain, an online store, and 2 premium business apps for FREE. This plan is insanely affordable when you consider what you’re getting for your money. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Managing your products is really easy to do. Like I said before, I hadn’t build an online store until I came across Wix. You can change the images on your products, categorise them, create discount codes and offers, etc. It felt almost too easy when I was doing it, it was hard to believe I was building my own online store myself!

How can you avoid paying over the odds?

It’s quite common for people with any size budget to overspend. I myself am a sucker for getting carried away with website themes and plugins. A few £ here and a few £ there can quickly add up to hundreds or even thousands.

The best thing to do is to start small. I know that might sound obvious but let me explain. Let’s take web hosting as an example to start with. When you sign up to a web host like SiteGround, you’re presented with multiple pricing plans. The difference between their StartUp plan and GrowBig plans is £2 per month. That might not seem a lot but that’s a difference of £24 per year, excluding VAT.

You’ll need to consider what your website needs immediately. Do you need 20GB storage right now or will 10GB be sufficient? Remember, most web hosts will let you upgrade your plan at any point. You don’t need to dive in with the biggest and best straight away when you won’t be using it to its full potential.

Making use of people like me can be one of your greatest resources! Let someone else do the hard work of researching and testing out the best web hosts, domain names, website builders and eCommerce platforms. Once you’ve read through my comparisons you should be equipped with the best knowledge to budget effectively.

What’s the best option?

After exploring some of the possibilities surrounding the cost of building a website, let me help you decide the best route to take. I’ve experimented with a wide range of options from drag and drop builders, templates, CMS platforms and even custom built sites.

The best way to simplify this whole process is to break it down into a few simple questions. Hopefully by the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll have it all figured out!

Question #1: What’s your actual budget?

As well as the initial setup, websites need maintenance. Fees renew monthly or yearly, and technologies change (we spoke about this before). Really it comes down to two things:

  • Initial setup and design
  • On-going costs (monthly/annually)

If you have over £100 to spend and your budget allows for this, something like WordPress would be a good option. You can afford a decent premium theme, some plugins, and WordPress web hosting. If your budget can stretch a little, you may even consider manages WordPress hosting.

If you have £100 or less to spend, a website builder would be my recommendation. Your monthly or annual costs will include a theme, web hosting, and often a domain name. You’ll have to manage the site yourself, but you’ll have an all-in-one solution to hand.

Question #2: Do you want to manage your site yourself?

I touched on this briefly in question one. There’s various ways your site can be managed. You can hire a web developer or designer to do the work for you. If you choose this option you will have to consider how much work for other people they also have. Do your timeframes allow for delays and potential setbacks? This also links into budget as hiring a web developer is very expensive.

Many web hosts offer a managed solution. This means they manage the installation, backups and updates to yourself. You still have to create the site and apply content to it, but the fiddly back end stuff gets done for you. Managed hosting can be slightly more expensive than shares hosting, but its worth it if you don’t have time or don’t want to manage certain aspects of your site.

Question #3: What features do you want on your site TODAY?

There are plenty of features, plugins and apps you can download and install to your website. Whether you’re using WordPress, another site builder, or having your site built for you, there’s lots of add-ons around.

What you need to consider is whether these tempting features are necessary NOW or whether you can do without them until later down the line.

Although features are nice to have, it’s easy to get carried away. If you’re using WordPress and install too many plugins, it may slow your site down. If you install plugins that conflict with each other, they won’t work. You also need to remember to keep them updated or you’ll face security risks or they’ll stop working.

If you want to get your website off the ground TODAY, go for it. You probably don’t need all the bells and whistles right now and may even learn over time what you do and don’t need.

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11 Jun 2019

How to Choose a Web Design Service in 2019

Starting a website is both exciting and quite daunting in an age when there is so much to choose from. Realistically you have a few choices – use a website builder, use a content management tool like WordPress or make a website from scratch.

Each option has it’s pros and cons. However, what is true in all cases is the fact that your online image can make or break your business.

Selecting the best website and design service

Selecting a website and design service that suits your own business requirements is a must (if you decide to go down that route). When it comes to choosing a website design and development firm, you’ll need to decide whether you want a full stack end-to-end digital agency, or a focused design and development team. Also your budget will make a BIG difference in who you can choose.

There are thousands of web design companies to choose from if you decide to go down the bespoke website build route. They can either start from scratch or use a CMS like WordPress and build your website inside that framework. With WordPress you have the choice of creating a new theme, or if you’re not a fan of reinventing the wheel, you can easily choose a professional theme from somewhere like Themeforest.

PRO TIP: If you are going to have your web designer create your website on your behalf then consult with them before putting any money down on themes or frameworks.

When looking around for a UK based web design company all of the top 10 lists had US companies on them (instead of UK ones) which is frustrating as some of the companies (like Hibu) look great but don’t serve companies outside the USA. I’ve made sure to list some of the best website design and marketing companies inside the UK.

What Qualifies THE BEST Website & Design Service?

The best website and design service needs to be measured on a few criteria. Certainly their portfolio and key (famous) clients are important, however we feel that there are a few things you need to look out for. Before diving into our top 10 UK web design services, let’s go over the criteria.

1. Look Out For Awards

Web design companies must first and foremost have great design abilities and have won some awards. The top web awards include:

. Horizon Interactive Awards
. The Webby Awards
. The Interactive Media Awards

There are also a wealth of National Awards that are too many to mention.

2. A Key Focus on Innovation

Every year there are giant leaps forward in technology and the online space. Most recently the vast numbers of people using smartphones to view websites has altered web design and development.  Therefore your website design company must be keeping up with the latest trends.  An innovative technology company is continually disrupting and innovating.

Make sure that your chosen web design service offers responsive website design – meaning a website design that works well on mobile phones.  Web design and development companies need to keep ahead of the latest trends and changes to ensure that their clients websites are kept up to date.

3. Wide Portfolio of Work

A web design company normally works in a wide range of industries. However, there are some industry specific companies that might have more insight in your particular industry.  In general, we are looking for companies that serve a broad range of niches. A web design company is more likely to be able to meet the demands of your project if they have a strong and versatile portfolio of work.

4. Wide Range of Digital Services

In 2019 a web design company is expected to do more than simply web design. The best companies are offering full stack digital development in all areas of marketing, design and brand positioning.

5. Satisfied Customers

The best web design companies need to prove that their customers are happy with the service. Web design companies should have top tier clientele from well-known brands, a wide range of great feedback and some long standing accounts.

6. Expansion

Company growth and expansion is a key indicator of success. How many offices do they have? How many staff do they employ? Additionally the best web design and development companies need to be growing in revenue.

When looking for the best web design companies in the industry these are a few things to take into consideration.

Innovify UK

BEST FOR – Back end systems development / end to end project management

Innovify “Innovate. disrupt. transform” is a web design company with offices in nine locations all around the world, from London to Dubai. Founded in Sept 2011 in London, UK – Innovify have a wealth of experience in all aspects of digital project development.  The most well-known clients of Innovify are Nokia, BBC and HSBC to name but a few of their famous customers. They offer end-to-end digital project management to bring any idea to life.

Innovify tick all of the boxes of our 6 key factors the make the best web design and development companies. They have a large team, a key focus on innovation, some impressive clients and an expansive portfolio of work.

  • Average Project Cost: $25,000
  • Team size: 50 – 249
Pros

✔ London, UK based

✔ All areas of digital product development covered from websites to apps

✔ Award-winning agile and scrum teams

✔ Growth hacking solutions

✔ No project too big or too small

✔ Reasonable pricing

✔ Clear workflow

✔ Award-winning app development

Cons

✘ Need to call to get an indication of price

FatMedia

BEST FOR – Social media marketing web design

FatMedia is a UK award winning digital marketing company with an inhouse team of 100+ experts. They were founded in 2005, so if you’re looking for an experienced yet innovative web provider in the UK then Fat Media are a contender. Based in Lancaster, UK – FatMedia work with both national and international clients and are known as a full stack digital marketing agency. As well as winning a tone of awards such as the BigChip 2013 award winner, they are accredited by Bing and Google.

Fat Media provide the full gamut of online digital services from PR and digital marketing to hosting and Branding. They also have some great customer testimonials on their website. Key client accounts include Warburtons and Yotel.

  • Team size – 100+
Pros

✔ Award winning agency

✔ Full stack digital agency, get all of your digital marketing done in one place

Cons

 ✘ Site is a little bit slow

B-Reel

BEST FOR – High-end digital projects

Founded way back in 1999 by Anders Wahlquist in Sweden, B-Reel is an impressive award winning digital product and strategy lab. They are the force behind the award winning Google Earth Studio. B-reel has 5 offices in total in Stockholm, NYC, London, LA and Barcelona.B-reel is keeping ahead of trends by shaping a modern approach to brand strategy. They have some impressive long term partners such as H&M Nike and Netflix. B-reel are the people to go to for high-end digital technology projects and their revenue is said to be $46.4 million.

  • Team size – 150+

Codecomputerlove.com

BEST FOR – World class digital experience creation

Code or Codecomputerlove.com is an impressive and expanding Digital Agency founded in 1999. Their UK offices are in Manchester however they are owned by MediaCom in the USA. Way more than a simple web design company Code works on all aspects of digital business development from strategic planning to branding. Their key focus is on building “brilliant digital products”. They create “future proof” digital products in a wide range of areas including Agile team management and leadership and high-quality software engineering.

  • Team size – 51-200
Pros

✔ Award winning

✔ Innovative and expanding team

Cons

 ✘ Not for small businesses

Critical Mass

BEST FOR – Long establishment marketing agency

Critical Mass was founded in 1996 and now has an anual revenue of £500million per year. Although their headquarters are in Calgary, Canada they also have offices around the world including London, UK. Criticalmass.com is a multi-award winning digital agency who has served massive companies such as Apple, BMW and McDonalds.

  • Team size – 950+
Pros

✔ Multi-award winning

✔ Innovative and expanding team

Cons

✘ Not for small businesses

CSI Media

BEST FOR BEING – Family run digital agency

CSI Media is a web design and development company based in Cheshire, UK. They have served some big clients such as Dell and Citroen. Founded in 1998 by a father, son and friend team – CSI Media has expanded into a team of 32.They also offer some digital marketing services, design and app development.

CSI Media began by creating travel websites and now specialize in hospitality and leisure projects for small to medium sized companies.

  • Average project cost $10,000
  • Team size – 32
Pros

✔ Small tight knit family team

✔ Experienced team of professionals

✔ Best for – cost effective website design

Kingslun

BEST FOR – Smaller website specific projects

Kingslun is a Website design agency founded in 2018 in Leicester, UK. They have a key focus more on the website side of digital technologies. Kingslun is a newer web design company that offers website design services with a lean toward the design rather than the features. They also offer a few other services like PPC and SEO to get people over to your place on the web.

  • Average project cost $1,000
  • Team size – 2-9
Pros

✔ Online chat

✔ Small projects catered for

Cons

✘ Don’t offer marketing or complex back end app development

Together

BEST FOR – Tech start ups

Together is a London based web design agency founded in 2018. Together works with companies on their online brand placement as well as offering key services like copywriting and web design. They have a key focus on the mobile user experience and will work with you to create a UX strategy, imperative in the current online marketplace. Together has worked with relatively few large brands but Hewlett Packard Enterprise stands out as a key account. Their key focus as a company is web design with minor focus in other areas like UX design and branding.

  • Average project cost $10,000
  • Team size – 2-9
Pros

✔ Offer complementary services like copywriting

✔ Web design specialists

Cons

✘ Haven’t worked with many massive brands

Bird Marketing Limited

Bird Marketing Limited is a London based digital agency founded in 2010. They offer three services – PPC, SEO and website design.  They have a focus on return on investment (ROI), so you’d be sure to get a nice website from them.

  • Average project cost $10,000
  • Team size – 10-49
Pros

✔ Established for 9 years

✔ ROI is a key focus

✔ Extensive knowledge in key areas

Cons

✘ No focus on innovation

✘ No marketing services offered

Tech ICS

Tech ICS unique selling point is innovation – which is perfect for a web design and development company. They also offer branding and digital marketing as well as videography services.

  • Average project cost – Price match offered, start at $200
  • Team size – 10-49
Pros

✔ Cheap prices

Cons

✘ Work outsourced to Bangladesh

What About Using a Website Builder Instead?

It is really easy to get started in the online space with a web builder. A lot of them are more sophisticated and anyone can use them to build a website, even directly from your mobile phone.  Let’s ook at the Pros and Cons of a Website Builder…

Pros

✔ Great for the beginner

✔ No coding required

✔ Cheap

✔ Quick

✔ Themes provided

✔ Update website from mobile phone

Cons

✘ Not very scalable

✘ Not as much control

✘ Design restrictions

✘ Feature restrictions

In Summary

There are far too many web design companies to choose from. A lot of them are full stack marketing companies that serve huge organisations. The smaller companies tend to lack scope and experience, so it might be an idea, if you’re looking to keep costs down to go for a website builder or a one-click installation on a web host until you find your feet in the digital world.

There are some companies that can create your online brand and presence for under $500 however, that is fairly rare. A more comprehensive full-stack company that can create your whole marketing plan is certainly favourable.

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11 Jun 2019

14 Best Photography Website Hosting Sites in 2019

To succeed in any industry in 2019, you’ll need a professional online presence.  A business web site is still required in this social media-driven age, especially if you’re looking to stand out as a professional photographer.

Sharing your photographs and style is paramount to getting photography work and selling your prints. However, most Photographers don’t have time to learn all of the ins and outs of technology and hosting.

In this article, we’ll be doing the legwork for you, and reviewing 14 of the best photography sites that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Having a professional online store or portfolio allows your work to spread globally, as people no longer need to meet you in person to see your work. If you sell prints, then that can be done easily with all of the photography hosting sites that I’ll review.

To decipher the very best solutions for photographers in 2019 we’ll look at:

1. Ease of use

2. Price range

3. Storage capacity

4. Photography themes

5. Gallery options

6. Photographer tools (like client proofing)

1. Pixpa ($6/month)

BEST FOR – end-to-end management for photographers

Pixpa is an exciting end-to-end business platform that is perfect or Photographers. Pixpa is specifically designed for creatives to share their portfolio and manage their business. With Pixpa you can share your images, create a blog and store client proofs all in one place, making it an ideal solution for Photographers.

Clients can view proofs and purchase images directly from your Pixpa website. What’s more you can sell your images as downloads, so that you don’t even have to do anything to make money once you have uploaded your images. Client galleries are available for you to create specific apps for your clients.  Basically, Pixpa has everything that you need to run your creative empire, hence it is top of our list!

Packages & Pricing

Pixpa offer 2 distinct packages. The first plan is called “Start” and is just $6 per month. With the start package you get everything you will need to get started – including themes, 200 images, unlimited galleries and unlimited gallery apps. If you find yourself running out of space then you can upload to the “Grow” Plan for an extra $3 per month, which will allow you to upload unlimited images.

Click Here To Visit Pixpa

 

Pros

✔ 15 day free trial

✔ Create personalized photo galleries

✔ Mobile gallery apps

✔ Flexible and scalable

✔ Enough space for a large number of original images

✔ Manage access rights for collections

✔ Price lists

✔ No commission on sales

✔ SSL certificate

✔ Integrated e-commerce features

✔ Connect your domain name

Cons

✘ Everything hosted on Pixpa, which could pose problems if you rely on their site for everything

2. Wix (FREE)

BEST FOR – Beginners

As a creator, you’ll want to your website to showcase your work in the best light. Wix is top of our list as it is so easy to use (even for complete beginners with no technical experience) and offers some nice themes, designed to showcase a portfolio of artistic work. I love the fact that you can upload your work to a private gallery with Wix. This will come in handy if you want to reveal your work to a select group of people. Additionally you can use the link to show to a prospective client or gallery.

Recommended: Check out our full Wix review here

You can choose from 40 Photography templates from Food or Fashion Photography to Wedding Photography.  “Wix Pro Gallery” is free and really easy to add to any of the templates on Wix. it has nine layout options and allows you to upload thousands of photos and even videos. Your visitor can hit the heart icon to let you know what photos they like best. There is built in image control where you can control the quality of your images and more…

Packages & Pricing

If you’re looking to accept online payments and sell your work through your Wix website then you’ll want to upgrade to one of the ecommerce plans. The main difference with the three ecommerce packages from Wix is the amount of disk space that you get. You also get a professional logo with the higher tier plan.

Click Here To Visit Wix

Pros

 Get started for free

✔ Paid plans have a 14 day money back guarantee

✔ Create a website from your mobile device

✔ Fully customizable templates

✔ Over 40 Photography templates to choose from

✔ Easy to use drag and drop interface

✔ Paid plans offer a free domain name

✔ Signup in seconds with your Facebook account

✔ Photography specific templates

✔ Up to $300-worth of ad credits

✔ Access to 1,000s of templates and additional tools in the App Market

Cons

✘ Advert supported, so your FREE Wix website will have adverts

✘ Just 500 MB disk space and 20 GB Transfer for free account

3. Hostinger ($1/ month)

BEST FOR – People who have some technical ability

Hostinger has everything you need to set up a professional Photography website. Best of all, they are currently offering shared hosting for just $1 per month, where you can host 1 website, 1 email account, you get 100GB of bandwidth. That is more than enough space to host 1000’s of images.

Read our full Hostinger review here

Packages & Pricing

If you are comfortable with the ins and outs of web hosting, then Hostinger could be for you. With Hostinger you are in control as your website will be hosted on your own server. The prices are also considerably lower than most of the site builder based Photography hosting. Hostinger also have a free web builder tool and you get 10GB of server space to store your images. If you want to upgrade to get some more space, host unlimited websites and snag a free domain, you can do so for just $3.50.

Pros

✔ Cheap and professional

✔ Easy Web builder

✔ 99.9% Uptime Guarantee

✔ 24/7 Live support

✔ Easy to use control panel

✔ 30-day money back guarantee

Cons

 ✘ Need to be comfortable with being in control of all aspects of your website

4. A2 Hosting ($3.99/month)

BEST FOR – A more hands on approach to designing and creating your Photography website

One reason that A2 Hosting is great for photographers is that they offer a Turbo Hosting option that is 20x faster than other hosting providers. A2 Hosting offer several high powered 1-click solutions for Image hosting including: Piwigo, TinyWebGallery, Coppermine, Chevereto and Lychee. Each option has its own USP and can be installed on A2 Hosting in seconds. They also have a custom Gallery option that allows you to upload images, create albums and watermarks.

Packages & Pricing

From just $3.99 you can get Gallery Hosting from A2 Hosting that is perfect for Photographers.

Pros

✔ Free HackScan Protection

✔ (DDoS) Protection

✔ Turbo Hosting

✔ 99.9% Uptime Commitment

✔ 24/7/365 Guru Crew Support

Cons

✘ For the more advanced tech savvy user

5. Weebly (FREE)

BEST FOR – Complete beginners

Another great web builder that has massive appeal to Photographers is Weebly.  Just like Wix, Weebly is fantastic for people with limited technical ability when it comes to creating websites. Weebly has a fantastic built in e-commerce solution that allows you to easily sell your photographs directly from your website.

Weebly’s drag and drop website creator is really easy to use to customize your website exactly the way you want it The stats dashboard allows you to see your visitors and overview your website. Weebly offers both free and paid options, so you can get started today with nothing down and only pay when you publish or require extra resources.

Recommended: See how Weebly stacks up against Wix

Packages & Pricing

You can get started on Weebly for free, however if you require additional resources or features then you can upgrade. There are quite a few options when it comes to upgrading inside Weebly. They have plans at $8, $12, $25 and $38 per month. You get nice $100 worth of Google Ad credit with all of their plans.

Pros

✔ Update website from your phone

✔ Sell your photos

✔ Professional themes

✔ 30 day money back guarantee

✔ 500MB to unlimited storage space (depending on the package you select)

✔ Change your template when live

✔ Clean and simple templates

✔ Perfect for beginners

✔ $100 Google ad credit

Cons

✘ Limited add-ons

✘ Restricted flexibility

6. BoldGrid ($4.99/Month)

BEST FOR – Photographers who want to use WordPress but don’t know how

BoldGrid is owned by InMotion hosting. Designed to make the whole process of creating a WordPress website easier, Boldgrid has some nice solutions that suit Photographers. For example they have hundreds of themes to choose from with a multitude of WordPress plugins that give your website added functionality.

It’s easy to set up your portfolio over on Boldgrid, which is one of the reasons they made it into our top 14 list. Boldgrid offer some great features such as automatic backups, which means that your website and photos will always be safely stored as a backup (in case anything goes wrong with your website, or it gets hacked). With Boldgrid you can simply drag and drop features rather than getting into the whole WordPress development side of things.

Packages & Pricing

You can try out Boldgrid for free (with limited features). If you decide that Boldgrid is for you then they offer one upgrade option – an annual plan at $60 per year.

Pros

✔ Great for beginners

✔ Drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG editing

✔ 200+ FREE wordpress themes

✔ 90 day money back guarantee

✔ Automatic Backups

Cons

✘ No photographer specific tools

✘ Just one upgrade option

7. Squarespace ($38/month)

BEST FOR – Complete beginners

If you are looking to create a blog and a portfolio to showcase your Photography work then Squarespace is a great option. Squarespace has a great easy to use drag and drop web builder that allows you to create galleries in no time. They also have a very helpful customer support department if you should get stuck at any point.

There are a few other features that are perfectly suited for creatives, for example Squarespace offer a free portfolio app to showcase your work and allow clients to view your gallery. Additionally you can arrange openings and shows via the event features.

Packages & Pricing

It’s a good idea to get started with the Squarespace free trial, where you’ll get two weeks to try everything out. If you are looking to upgrade then the ecommerce pricing is pretty expensive at $38 per month.

Pros

✔ 24/7 Customer support

✔ Free portfolio app

✔ 14 Day Free trial available

✔ Mobile ready pages

✔ Full screen slide shows

✔ Light box feature

✔ Cropping feature

✔ Clean templates

Cons

✘ Expensive

8. 500px (FREE)

BEST FOR – Connecting with other photographers, access an existing Photographer community

500px is an exciting social network of Photographers. More than 15million Photographers are on 500px collaborating and sharing their work.  As with most social media channels you get your own feed, where you can share your work with the 500px community. 500px has an online marketplace much like the Facebook marketplace where photographers can exhibit and sell their work.

Packages & Pricing

500px is an ad supported community. However, you can upgrade to view the community feed without adverts. Additionally you get unlimited uploads. There are two options (both billed annually) – “Awesome” and “Pro”.

Awesome is $3.99 per month ($47.88 per year) and gets you in depth statistics, unlimited uploads and ad free browsing. Pro is $5.99 per month ($71.88 per year) and gets you everything in the “Awesome” package plus priority listings and a customizable profile.

Pros

✔ Free account creation

✔ Limited uploads on free account

✔ Get started instantly

✔ People to communicate with and share your work

✔ Apps for iPhone and Google Play

✔ Keep up to date with the photography industry

Cons

✘ People outside 500px can’t see your feed inside the community

✘ Ad supported

✘ Not as professional as a website

9. Zenfolio ($5/month)

BEST FOR – Great for – end-to-end digital Photography business tools

Zenfolio is voted No.1 by Photographers as they have tailored the whole business around the needs of the Photographer, offering everything from unlimited photo storage to selling photo sessions. You can get started for free and create the perfect digital space to advertise your Phototgraphy services. You can create a stunning Photography website within minutes with Zenfolio. There is no need to think about running out of storage space with Zenfolio as you can upload unlimited images with the paid plans.

Packages & Pricing

There are three packages to choose from – Starter, Pro and Advanced. All of the packages feature unlimited image storage. However, if you are looking to integrate your Paypal account and accept payments, then Pro will be the package for you. Pro is $20 and offers all of the features you’ll need to run a professional Photography business. The advanced option is for those that have a growing business. You can also pay annually to save money.

Pros

✔ Created just for Photographers

✔ Unlimited image upload

✔ Create your website in minutes

✔ Partnership with top printing companies

✔ Cost effective

✔ Pay annually or monthly

Cons

✘ Chat and email support only for highest tier membership

10. Shopify ($29/month)

BEST FOR –  People who don’t need the additional Photography business tools and are more focused on the ecommerce platform

Shopify might not be the first Photography website host that springs to mind, but it is one of the best ecommerce hosting companies. Many art galleries rely on Shopify to showcase and sell artwork, so it seemed fitting to add it to our list of great Photography hosting websites.

With Shopify you can add on a great deal of features to help you promote your store, for example promo codes. On the Shopify website you can browse successful art and photography stores to assess how you could benefit from creating a Photography store with Shopify.

Packages & Pricing

The “Basic Shopify Store is $29/month, which is 6x the price of many of the other basic photography sites. However, many restrict access to ecommerce in their lower packages. With all of the Shopify stores you’ll benefit from unlimited product listings. The only thing you’ll be missing out on, that are offered at the higher levels of service are reports and gift cards. Shopify also offers a “Shopify Lite” plan that allows you to sell directly on Facebook or your own blog for just $9 per month.

Pros

✔ 14 Day FREE trial

✔ No credit card needed for free trial

✔ Professional ecommerce stores are easy to set up

✔ 24/7 customer support

✔ Process payments directly from Shopify

Cons

✘ Lacks advanced Photographer tools like proofing and gallery apps

✘ Very expensive

✘ Commission added to purchases

11. Format ($6 per month)

BEST FOR – Portfolio websites

Format is a website builder that has been created specifically for portfolio websites, such as a professional Photographer’s website. You can use your own domain name, and Format will even help you set that up.  Format offers a complete end to end solution for Photographers with some great support and features like eCommerce being available on all plans.

Packages & Pricing

You can get started with Format for free. You don’t even need to provide your credit card details, which is awesome. The free trial lasts 14 days, which should be more than enough time to figure out if Format is the web builder solution for you. The paid packages start at just $6/ month for their “Enthusiast” package. Here you can upload up to 100 images, if you want to upload unlimited products with Format that will cost you $25.

Pros

✔ Can pay monthly

✔ 14 day free trial

✔ No credit card required for free trial

✔ Pricing is reasonable

✔ Sell directly from your website

✔ Proofing feature

✔ Collection of responsive themes

✔ Flexibility to change plan

✔ 24/7 support

✔ Blogging support

Cons

✘ Slightly more expensive than other portfolio website builders

12. SmugMug ($5.99)

BEST FOR – Beginners that want to get started with a  free trial

Smugmug offers completely customizable image websites that are perfect for Photographers. They provide an easy to use drag and drop site editor. You can also customize your site to match your brand. However, these features are restricted to the higher price bands. You can get started with Smugmug for free with their 14 day free trial.

Packages & Pricing

SmugMug plans are a bit more expensive than the others on the list, however they do allow unlimited image uploads on all of their plans.  The basic plan is $5.99 per month, however you can’t sell images with that plan. The Pro plan offers client tools to help you run your whole enterprise.

Pros

✔ 14 Day free trial

✔ Great for beginners

✔ No credit card required

✔ Features created specifically for photographers

✔ 24/7 customer support

Cons

✘ You can only sell your images on their more expensive plans

✘ Prices displayed exclude VAT

13. Photodeck ($12/month)

BEST FOR – Fast SEO friendly photography galleries

Photodeck has optimized their websites for SEO and speed, a very basic but clean approach to presenting your Photography portfolio. They also offer hundreds of easy to use customization features so that you can showcase your photos and videos exactly as you want, in line with your brand. They also have a private gallery feature.

Packages & Pricing

Photodeck is a lot more expensive than the other websites that we have covered so far. However, their USP is the SEO and server performance. The starter package rom Photodeck is called “Essential” and costs $12 per month. With this package you are restricted in terms of the amount of images and videos you can upload (just 3 video clips).

For the professional Photograper their “Business” plan is $45 per month. If you’re looking to sell photos directly from your site, the you’ll need to go for the “Standard” ($25/month) or “Business” packages.

Pros

✔ Average load time 20ms

✔ Zero commission eCommerce stores

✔ 14 day free trial

✔ Mobile friendly

✔ Pay monthly or yearly

✔ No contracts, cancel any time

Cons

✘ Expensive

✘ Limited storage on low plan

14. Photoshelter ($10/month)

BEST FOR – Full stack Photography tools

Photoshelter is an all in one business solution for photographers. They provide a wide range of features from galleries to client proofing tools to save you time and effort. Currently Photoshelter supports 80,000 with their online tools and websites, showcasing some 400 million images, impressive. They offer a wide range of features, including proofing tool, mobile app, social sharing and image licensing.

Packages & Pricing

Client proofing is only available on the two higher tier packages. Photoshelter has everything that you need to run a professional photography business and some great security features.

Pros

✔ New York support team

✔ 14 day free trial

✔ Cancel anytime

✔ 100+ features developed for Professional Photographers

✔ Enhanced security features

Cons

✘ Credit card required for free trial

✘ No refunds or money back guarantees

Other Available Options For Photographers

If you don’t want to go to the bother of creating a full blown website then you can use a photo hosting website. These sites allow you to store and share your images without creating a front end website. The best examples are Dropbox, Flickr, Imgur, Photobucket and Google Photos.

You can also share your work on social media. Instagram is a fantastic platform for photographers to share their work. However, if you are looking to upscale your photography business, then creating a fully-fledged online web presence, complete with an ecommerce store is a brilliant option. Combining social media with your website to drive traffic to your space on the web remains a great way to get more people to see your work.

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11 Jun 2019

The Best Web Design Software + Free Resources in 2019

The thought of designing your own website may be a little daunting. There’s plenty of decent website builders out there, but for some, designing their own website is an exciting venture. Even if you’ve never designed a website before, don’t feel put off. There’s a whole bunch of software ready for you to sink your teeth into.

If you’ve never built a website before, it may be worth considering a free tool or free trial first. I’m going to cover a selection of the best web design software in 2019, as well as loads of free resources.

This guide is designed to show you that anyone can create a website. You can create web pages, content, images, videos, etc. It doesn’t matter if you know (or don’t know) how to use FTP, this collection of the best web design software will assist you.

Even if you’re a web designer but don’t know how to code, web design software can create pages using the likes of What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG).

1 | Adobe Dreamweaver CC (Best Overall Software Package)

 

 

 

Adobe Dreamweaver has been around for a long time, so holds a high reputation. You can code your website directly into Dreamweaver (you don’t even need to know much programming). Dreamweaver allows you to edit your website visually as well as using HTML/CSS editing (a lot of which you can obtain from free resources).

Although Adobe Dreamweaver doesn’t offer any website templates, it does allow you to preview your creation at any time. Dreamweaver ensures you can develop responsive web design, meaning you can optimise your website for multiple devices. This is essential to a good user experience and can affect your SEO if you don’t incorporate it.

If you’re lucky enough to be more of an advanced user, Dreamweaver supports the following technologies:

  • Multi-monitor support (Windows only)
  • Git
  • Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF)
  • HTML5
  • CSS

Adobe Dreamweaver CC does come with a free trial. All the elements within the free trial are functional and allows you to enjoy the full experience. If you want to purchase a full copy of Adobe Dreamweaver CC, an annual plan (paid monthly) will cost £19.97 per month. If you’re not ready to commit to a full year, you’ll be looking at a hefty £30.34 per month.

Pros:

  • Responsive design
  • Easy to use
  • HTML5 support

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

 

2 | Google Web Designer

 

 

 

 

Google Web Designer offers users a simple GUI with point and click tools. It offers basic shapes, text, 3D animations and more. Although it ‘s great for creating interactive content, it’s main purpose is to build adverts.

Google’s software has a large library of images, videos, and other useful advertising features. The interface is easy to use with accessible panels allowing you to customise options like colours and fonts. The service is entirely free, so it’s worth playing around with!

That said, Google Web Designer is currently in beta testing, so not all features are operational. You can’t open HTML files that have been created outside of the software which is somewhat frustration. However, you can preview your work at any time using the preview option. It’s also really simple to publish content from a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine.

Pros:

  • Easy to use interface (WYSIWYG)
  • Includes support for Google Maps & YouTube
  • Great for building adverts

Cons:

  • Still in Beta

 

3 | BlueFish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BlueFish’s lightweight installer is just over 50MB in size. This probably makes it the smallest web design software available to download. Because of this, it’s really easy to setup and get running in a matter of minutes. BlueFish is by no means the prettiest web design software as it is just text.

My thoughts are that BlueFish is designed for beginners, using obvious toolbars and customisable menus to navigate with. Although it’s main focus is HTML, BlueFish also support a wide range of languages including:

  • XML
  • CSS
  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • SQL

Perhaps due to it’s size, BlueFish’s software can handle a lot of queries. You can have multiple projects open, perform searches, and open documents without any trouble. My only real grumble with BlueFish is that they don’t support direct uploading via FTP. It’s not a huge deal but it’s something I’d expect to see of web design software in 2019.

Pros:

  • Lightweight web design software
  • Free to use
  • Advanced code can be used

Cons:

  • Lacks a visual interface

 

4 | Webflow

 

 

 

 

Webflow is a perfect web design software solution for those with no coding experience. It’s cloud-based service offers a drag and drop interface where you can seamlessly use elements, text, and images. Templates are available for those who want to use them, making it a great choice for beginners to the industry.

What’s unique about Webflow is that even when you use their WYSIWYG editor, the code produced is actually really good. Often these kind of editors produce messy code that can actually slow down your website. The ‘no coding experience’ option is ideal for new users, but gives the flexibility to make changes through the HTML and CSS code if you want to.

You an try Webflow for free before committing to a subscription. You can actually continue using Webflow for free, forever. But if you want to make your site live, you’ll need to pay for a plan. Site plans start from around $12 per month (if paid annually). The cost goes up if you want to include additional features or web hosting.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Perfect for beginners

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

 

5 | WordPress

 

 

 

You may be surprised to see WordPress on this list. Although it’s not web design software in the way you may know it, it is a content management system (CMS). For those of you who have never used WordPress before, you can setup a new website in literally a few minutes. It’s super easy to install, and most web hosting providers include WordPress for free.

WordPress is user friendly, but it can take a little while to get used to where everything is. There’s a whole wealth of web design templates available (both free and premium), with tonnes of support and plugins.

You don’t need to know anything about coding to use WordPress efficiently. In fact, there are millions of websites powered by WordPress that you wouldn’t even imagine. Big brand names, musicians, you name it! Professional looking websites with creative design can be published in no time at all.

WordPress offers a wealth of plugins (add-ons) for your website, which makes customising it actually pretty fun! Plugins can be installed with the click of a button, and uninstalled in the same way.

Pros:

  • Extremely popular with lots of support
  • Loads of plugins
  • Professional designs for free

Cons:

  • Can take a while to get used to

 

6 | Wix

Wix offers a very powerful drag and drop tool to create your perfect website. When you sign up to Wix, your website is hosted for you, meaning a complete solution in one place. Wix provides a user-friendly web design platform allowing you to create a professional website within a very short amount of time.
What I love about Wix is how intuitive the software is. It’s super easy to drag and drop elements onto your chosen template. You can integrate forums, a blog, and even eCommerce features (without any prior experience).
Wix’s templates are ready-made for you. There’s no need to create a separate website for your mobile users, as this gets done automatically. What’s great however is the fact you can customise your mobile site separately if you want to. Wix’s advanced technology and Wix ADI makes creating a website a pleasure, not a chore.
If you’re not sure whether you want to commit to paying a subscription for Wix, they do offer a basic free account. You can get a feel for the software and decide whether it’s right for you before investing in it.

Pros:

  • Drag and drop tools
  • Very easy to use
  • Professional templates come mobile ready

Cons:

  • Pricing can get expensive

 

7 | Adobe Photoshop

 

 

Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly popular web design tool that’s been around for years. I’d consider it a premium tool because it’s purpose is solely focused around design (and it is pretty expensive). Photoshop offers a wealth of tools to create web design templates, edit them, and even create images for your website.

Photoshop’s tools go into greater detail than other web design software I’ve seen. For example, there’s no limit on colour options, you can import downloaded fonts, and edit your design pixel by pixel if you really wanted.

Adobe Photoshop offers a blank canvas to start your web design journey. You can create whatever you want, or use the mass amount of resources available to you (check out the resources at the bottom of this post). Whatever you can think of doing, Adobe Photoshop probably allows you to do it.

You can create your website layer by layer, undo or redo steps you’ve taken, move elements around (or even hide them). Not only does Photoshop allow you to design your website, it gives you the tools to design elements and objects for your website. There’s plenty of tutorials and guides available to help you through your journey, though it does take a fair amount of time to get the hang of.

Pros:

  • Advanced web design tool
  • Insane amount of features and tools
  • Create your website from a blank canvas

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of time to learn

 

8 | Sketch

Sketch is specifically for Mac devices. This web design software offers professional tools in order to create web designs and web templates. Sketch uses vector images which produce high resolution imagery. The Sketch interface is very simple, but this provides an intuitive user experience to start your web design products.

Once you’ve created your design (or even during the process), you can use Sketch’s mirroring feature. The mirroring feature allows you to test your template across multiple devices. Ensuring that your website looks great on mobile devices and tablets is really important; not only for user experience but also for SEO.

 

You can try Sketch for free via their website, this way you can see whether you like the software before committing to purchasing it. If you do decide to buy Sketch, a licence will cost you $99 for the year. Although that might seem like a lot, it’s actually very reasonable considering other software like Photoshop which is a lot more costly.

Sketch has plenty of plugins and extensions to keep you going. These are developed by third party companies but are available to download on Sketch’s website. They have a large community to engage with should you need advice, as well as tutorials and support.

Pros:

  • Affordable pricing compared to other software
  • Intuitive toolbar and design elements
  • Test your site on multiple devices

Cons:

  • Can be a bit difficult to get the hang of

 

9 | Figma

Figma is a great choice for businesses or those that require multiple users to work on one project. It’s offers a multi-user design experience allowing you to collaborate with your team. This comes in handy when you’re working with your own design team as well as showing mock-ups with customers etc.

This software has a pool of fonts and colours available when editing. The toolbar allows you to create icons, logos, and ultimately an entire website template.

You can try Figma for free, which will enable up to two editors on a project. Their ‘professional’ plan offers unlimited editors and comes in at $12 per month (per editor), and finally their ‘organisation’ plan which is $45 per month (per editor). Their pricing is quite costly, especially when you consider this is per editor, so if you have a large organisation, you’re going to have to dig deep in your pockets.

Figma gives developers the tools to inspect, copy, and export assets. You can also copy CSS from the design file itself. You can always see who’s editing what in Figma, allowing you to easily keep track of who’s working on what. Content writers can edit directly in Figma too, so no one will feel left out.

Pros:

  • Fairly easy to use
  • Collaborative software

Cons:

  • Price is per editor and can be expensive

 

10 | Canva

Canva is a free design tool which can be used to create a professionally designed web template. What’s great about Canva is that it’s not limited to web design alone. You can create other designs to compliment your web templates like logos, advertising, and pretty much any imagery you can imagine.

Canva offers lots of templates to make life easier. If you don’t have any web design experience, you can use Canva’s templates to start your journey. This is always useful if you’re just starting out and want to experiment before investing too much time or money into paid design software.

Canva’s features tend to represent what software like Photoshop offers, but in a simpler way. For example, you can create speech bubbles on images, crop images, edit transparency and enhance your photos.

I find Canva useful if you’re lacking inspiration. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a design unless you get ideas from other places. Canva has a large library of icons that you can use in any of your designs (free and paid).

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Great for creating images

Cons:

  • Not as professional as other design software

Free Web Design Resources

Fribble: Lots of free PSD files and mock-ups (icons, UI kits, mobile resources)

DaFont: Thousands of free fonts that you can install to Windows and Mac

Textures: Loads of textures and website backgrounds

UI Cloud: Nearly 50,000 UI kits to choose from

Creative Market: 5 free downloads per week (fonts, templates, and patterns)

CoffeeCup Software: Free apps, HTML editor, web form builder and shopping carts

InVision app: Prototyping and collaboration tools

Pixlr: Edit images straight from your browser

Canva: Graphic design software with drag and drop functionality

Easel.ly: Infographic templates for free 

Pixiden: Loads of free icons

Font Awesome: Allows you to use popular FA icons

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