12 Apr 2017

An Introduction to Great Typography

You should never underestimate the importance of typography on a website. Far too often, people get consumed with creating videos or placing images and features onto their website and they neglect one of the most important aspects of maintaining a high quality website – the typography.

So for those who are maybe new to this, lets take a quick look at what we are talking about when we say typography. Is it just a fancy word for text? Essentially it does refer to text but more from the perspective of how the text is displayed, i.e. the presentation of the text, including layout, line length, spacing, colour, font and size.

Website content publishers don’t always spend time in perfecting this element of content but it really does have a huge significance on the effectiveness of your website.

The History of Typography

It is not just websites that adopt this format, it originates from how text was displayed in newspapers and goes back many years. Even manuscripts from the middle ages contained illustrations to make specific words and sections stand out more.

When Johannes Gutenberg introduced printing in Europe back in 1439, typography became a very important element in the printing revolution.

The most famous words to ever be written, those of The Bible, are a prime example of how typography developed over the years. Gutenberg produced what was known as the 42-line Bible, which kick-started printing of books in Europe.

After that, typography began to develop significantly, you can see by looking a newspaper pages from over the years, how changes were introduced with the main objective of making the text easier for readers to absorb quickly.

Before digitalisation, there were people that had jobs as a typographer but now with all of the fonts and design software that is available, pretty much anyone can create their own style of text and amend the appearance of text easily.

 

How to use typography the right way

There isn’t necessarily a right way to use typography, because if you are being creative, you may want to use different styles of fonts, different colours etc. but it is important that when deciding on a font to use, you think about how it will look on the page. You also need to be thinking about accessibility guidelines.

To give a quick summary of why getting typography wrong is shooting yourself in the foot, here are a few examples to look at:

As you can see from the examples above, you can lay text out in attractive, easy to read sections to help people take in the information. There is nothing as frustrating as a website visitor than trying to pick out some information that you need from a jumble of long text without any breaks or headlines.

 

The Hierarchy

The way that most website default text options have been set up is to allow 3 or 4 layers of hierarchy. So you will have a main heading, a sub heading and then body text. Some will add further headline layers so that particularly long texts, like reports can be split down even more.

Elements of Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy can be broken down in to the following:

  • Size – Where text is made larger or smaller to reflect headings/sub headings
  • Position – The positioning of text to show relationships between text
  • Weight – Using bold to make words stand out
  • Colour – Using different colours to grab attention
  • Typeface Contrast – Different typefaces can be used to produce hierarchy.

This is just a very quick overview of how you can use different styles to create a hierarchy but there are numerous theories that go into the impact of different colours that you could also incorporate.

Spacing

Spacing is also a big consideration when you are creating good content with well-developed typography. You should be leaving space between paragraphs and different sections of your text to allow the reader to find the headings easier. It is also very important to be careful with line spacing, which is the distance between each line of text.

Here are some examples of how line spacing can make things really hard for a reader:

This line spacing is set at 0.5

This line spacing is set at 0.5

This line spacing is set at 0.5

 

This line spacing is set at 1

This line spacing is set at 1

This line spacing is set at 1

 

This line spacing is set at 1.5

This line spacing is set at 1.5

This line spacing is set at 1.5

 

Getting the line spacing is vital because readers will quickly get fed up if the spacing is too small or too big.

Text Size

A common way of selecting appropriate, relative sizes for your hierarchy is by using the Modular Scale. This will help you to make the decision on which size text will look best for your different levels of hierarchy.

Getting your text too small is one of the biggest problems for readers. The text readability is the most important factor in a page, not trying to cram as much into one section as you possibly can so that readers don’t need to scroll down! Always remember that it is much easier for readers to scroll down than it is to read tiny text.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, having text that is way too big will annoy most readers, so avoid that too.

Fonts

Stylish fonts looks great on a page for things like titles but you have to be careful with the body text. You should always use fonts that are easy to read, particularly for long sections of text.

So, those are the most important factors to think about when you are trying to create text that is highly readable through good use of typography. If you take all of these into consideration when you create new content, you won’t be driving website visitors away because they will love how you display your text.

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29 Mar 2017

What Makes a Good Web Host?

There are many web hosts out there wanting your business, but not all hosting services are created equal. That is why you need to know how to choose the right web hosting service for your needs. In fact, your needs are what determine the best fit for you. You also have to know what qualities make up a great host so you can find one.

 

Identify Your Hosting Needs

Before you look at the different qualities of good web hosts, you need to know what you need. Ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • What time of website am I building?
  • Do I need to use special software?
  • Do I need a host that also offers website building tools?
  • Do I need a host that allows FTP uploads?
  • How much web traffic am I looking for?

 

These questions are important because most hosts have multiple packages, and each package may cap bandwidth, how much traffic you are allowed to have with that particular package, e-commerce capabilities, the number of databases, and more. By identifying the type of site and the target size of your traffic, you have made the first step toward choosing the right host.

 

Qualities of a Good Web Host

The following are 18 qualities to look for in a good web host.

 

1. Reputable

When you decide to compare web hosts, it is important to look at reputable hosts. These hosting companies have longevity under their belts, so you have plenty of information to measure and compare.

 

2. Server Uptime

Server uptime shouldn’t be less than 99.8%. There is a very small amount of wiggle room for the host to have downtime, because it can happen, but any downtime should be extremely negligible.

To determine what type of uptime a web host has, you want to look at its reviews. A Google search can go a long way as you determine which hosts have had the most downtime according to their users. Make sure you look at dates to ensure that all the downtime you are seeing isn’t from the same event.

Real life example – The following is the uptime record for InMotion Hosting on March 2017. Note that there’s no downtime recorded since August 2016.

 

3. Shared Hosting vs. Private Hosting

Shared hosting is a low-cost option that allows you tens of thousands of unique visitors and a good amount of space. This is a great place to start if you aren’t sure how big your site will become. Think about 12 months in advance, so you have a good foundation to start with.

If you think your website is going to grow big within the next few years, private or dedicated hosting may be what you need. It comes at a higher expense, but a site that is growing is one that will most likely generate more than adequate revenue.

 

4. Cost

Cost is very important. You want the highest quality for the lowest cost.

However, make sure you don’t opt for a package that has less than you need. The good news is that if you find that you are getting close to the visitor cap your plan allows, you can upgrade.

As mentioned earlier, shared hosting will cost less than dedicated hosting. Again, the size of the site will determine what you need. You also need to look at the signup cost vs. the annual renewal cost. For shared hosting, around $10 per month is acceptable for monthly renewal. However, paying an entire year or even two years at once will save money.

 

5. Trials and Refunds

Some hosts offer trial periods, which means they will give you a refund if you aren’t satisfied with the service. If trials and refunds are offered, see if they refund the entire amount you paid or just a portion of it. Some hosting companies charge cancellation fees.

 

6. Website Backup

Websites can crash and can be hacked, which is why it’s imperative to have backups so the site can be restored quickly. If a host backs up websites regularly, then you don’t have to worry if an incident occurs. The host should be able to restore most, if not all, of the site quickly.

 

7. Website Security

Some hosts offer security features. While there is never a foolproof security method, security features can ensure that the chance of hacking is reduced significantly.

 

8. Customer Support

When something is wrong with your hosting, there is no time to waste. You can’t wait for customer support. Having 24/7 customer support is important, particularly live chat that allows you to get the help you need without having to pick up the phone.

 

9. E-Commerce Capabilities

If you plan to sell items through your website, you need e-commerce features. The host may offer shopping cart software if you don’t already have your own. Having a host with good e-commerce features support, a dedicated IP, SSL certification, and shopping cart software if you need it will allow you to run an online store properly.

 

10. Room to grow

Not all web hosts cater to everyone. For instance, a shared host may not have packages that accommodate a growing business. Some may not offer VPS or dedicated hosting solutions. And there are hosting companies that focus on blogging only. The key is to find hosting companies that you are comfortable with.

 

11. A User-Friendly Control Panel

A control panel, or cPanel, that is easy to use is very important. You at least should be able to make basic changes. If a control panel is difficult to follow, you may find yourself at the mercy of tech support more than you want to.

 

12. Reasonable Account Limits

A hosting plan may say that it is unlimited, but the fact is that there are limits. A web host may opt to suspend your account if you are using too much bandwidth or violating any aspect of its rules. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and rules for having a website so you can make sure you stay within compliance.

 

13. Email Account Availability

You most likely want an email address with your domain, so you want a host that can host your email. However, you may have found a great host that doesn’t host email. That’s OK, because there are other programs on the internet that will. Google Email Apps will host an email using your domain name. Just make sure the email service you choose has all the features you need.

 

14. Contract Period

Some hosts will allow you to pay month to month while others require a year. There are also some that require a two-year subscription. Unless there are money-back guarantees, you may not want to pay for two years in advance.

 

15. Add-On Features

Look at the add-on features that are offered. Does the host offer anything like free domain privacy? See if what it is offering is important to you and compare these features and their costs, or lack of cost, with one another.

 

16. Connection Speed

This is different from website load time. You need good connection speed so that changes made on the website will show almost immediately. You don’t want an urgent change to take hours to appear.

 

17. Host Operating System

Many hosts use Linux because that’s the industry standard. If you have a website that is using Microsoft.NET tools, you’ll need to use a Windows server. For most people new to setting up a blog or website, the operating system the host uses isn’t important. Windows servers aren’t as secure as Linux servers are, which is something to consider.

 

18. File Size Limits

Watch out for file size limits. Some hosts will limit the size of each file you upload. If you need to upload large files, this could cause a problem for you, and it could limit the type of files you can use.

 

The Bottom Line

Consider these 18 elements, and you will be able to find a host that meets all your needs. Determine what is important to you, compare hosts, and make your decision. That way, you can run a website that can easily grow and make the revenue you are looking for.

 

About the author – Jerry Low

Jerry Low is a geek dad who’s passionate in search optimization and building web assets. You can find out more of his work at Web Hosting Secret Revealed.

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15 Mar 2017

Why Website Development Is No Overnight Sensation [INFOGRAPHIC]

Smoothly run website development projects follow clearly defined steps – which all take time.  To create a great looking, robust and secure website which offers an exceptional user experience, is not going to happen overnight.

Wow betide any company that tries to cut corners along the way to placate an impatient client – tears and tantrums from designers, coders and the client are sure to surface on a regular basis.

If you run a web design company and need to explain to your client why their project may take several months, use this great infographic from New Design Group.

 

1. The Brief

Your client must prepare a detailed brief to form the strong foundations of a successful project.  They should define the target audience and goals of the site.  They need to work with the developers to agree on the technical specifications of the site. And only then can you provide the final project timeline and budget.

 

2. Planning

The web development company will carry out research and outline first concepts for the website. They will define how a someone will navigate the website, ensuring a pleasurable user experience.

Wireframes and mock-ups must be reviewed carefully by the client, so necessary adjustments can be flagged; any requests for significant changes later on will be costly in time and money.

 

3. Design

The creative juices of the web designers now get into action. They will identify the color scheme to match the company’s brand color palette. They will design headers, buttons and animations if required, and identify the best typography for the site. And throughout this stage, they will be planning a design which appears correctly on different devices – from small smart phones to large desktops.

 

4. Development

After the design prototype is approved, an appropriate framework or Content Management System (CMS) will be identified for the basis of the website. With customization, the final look and functionality of the website can be created, whether it’s an informative site or requires complex eCommerce functions.  Then content can be integrated and search engine optimization (SEO) activities can be implemented.

During this phase, site performance must be reviewed: loading speed should be fast, all aspects should function as expected, and private content should be made secure.

 

5. Launch

After final testing, the website will be transferred to the live server. The client should help in the quality assurance testing of the site, looking out for glitches or typing errors that need correction.

If necessary, the web development company will provide training and documentation to enable the client to make simple updates themselves.

 

6. Maintenance

A good web development company will provide support post go-live and help troubleshoot any issues encountered, and furthermore will help implement design, functionality and content updates.

 

Conclusion

The more your client understands the web design process, the better. They will realise significant changes late in the project will cause major delays, and will fully appreciate why they can’t have a nice, shiny new website after just a week.

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02 Mar 2017

[INFOGRAPHIC] 25 Features Every Online Business Must Have in 2017

For your business to succeed online you need to make sure that your website is feature packed! There are many small details that can make all the difference – both in terms of giving customers trust and also giving them extra functions that aid conversions and improve the overall user experience of your site. It makes your business stand apart from the other’s giving you a competitive edge.

This infographic shows 25 features that are key to improving your online business from showcasing your contact information to ensuring that you have a great UX structure that’ll boost conversions and aid usability. Both of which are key in 2017! Building trust within your site by adding testimonials, contact information and social media profiles is a sure way of increasing conversion rates. You can increase conversions through design and also by choosing a reliable web hosting provider. Check out some of the best web hosting companies for your money here!

 

When you are setting up a website for your business, you want it to be the best that you can make it. Initially you may think that a good website is one that looks attractive and yes this is a very important factor but there are other factors that you also need to prioritise. For example, the positioning of your content and various website features has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your website.

Creating a website that is easy to navigate around is critical from a user perspective, as if your website is confusing and over-crowded it is likely to make people leave your website. This is the biggest problem that you will have. You need to be able to drive people to your website through your marketing channels and then make your website so good that they don’t want to leave.

By developing content that is useful to your target audience, you will attract them to your site and they will be compelled to either sign up for a newsletter or call you to enquire about your products or services. How you want visitors to behave will vary on your type of business but if you want people to call you to arrange an appointment, for example, you would get better success rates if you position a strong call to action in a highly prominent position. This type of useful information is listed in this helpful infographic 25 features every online business must have in 2017.

Use this infographic as a template to build your website and position your content as shown. You will soon start to see that visitors are increasingly acting as you want them to do i.e. contacting you about your products or making an online purchase.

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13 Feb 2017

Does my business need a blog?

If you’re asking yourself the question about whether your business needs a blog then you’re already a step closer to discovering the power of a successful blogging strategy. If you are looking for new ways to expand your business, then marketing and more specifically blogging is a tested and proven method.

If you’re wondering what blogging can bring to your business, then wonder no more because we have rounded up some of the key benefits into a quick summary:

 

  1. Improves the SEO of your website

In other words, more people will be able to find your website through search engines. Because you will have more pages and more links, this improves the search engine ranking. Obviously, if more people visit your site, this will lead to more customers. SEO ranking has been around for some time but now it is becoming a marketing method that even smaller businesses are investing time and money in. If you haven’t started tapping into it yet, the chances are that your competitors are and will be taking your potential customers with them.

 

  1. The stats prove that you should!

Did you know that B2B companies that blog get 67% (stats taken in 2015) more leads than the ones that don’t use blogs? In a world where the percentage of online sales are increasing at a rapid rate, (increased by 11% in the UK in 2015) you can’t afford to miss out on operating with an online channel. This trend looks like it is here to stay and will only increase over the next few years. There is an App for all big stores these days, making online purchases much easier than walking into a shop and having to actually find items!

 

  1. Improves the credibility of your business

If you are creating high quality blogs that demonstrate your expertise, this will influence people’s perception of your business. A blog is your channel to show people just how good your business is and what your business can do for your customers. You can build trust with customers and they will return to you for products and services once this trust is established.

 

  1. It aligns to your Social Media Strategy

You can increase your social media following via your blog and encourage people to share your blog via Twitter, Facebook etc. to increase your customer reach. If you create a really useful blog, readers will be compelled to share it with their network or specific people that they think will be interested in the topic. If you don’t have a fully developed Social Media Strategy, it is time to develop one. Read Forbes’ Top 7 Social Media Trends That Dominated 2016 for some inspiration.

So, going back to the question ‘Does my business need a blog?’, I think we have successfully answered this question with a definite YES! If you are not taking advantage of all of the benefits that a blog brings then you are missing a vital part of a successful marketing strategy. Get that blog created now and don’t waste any more opportunities to generate leads for your business.

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23 Jan 2017

Free Web Hosting VS Paid Web Hosting

If you’re looking into setting up a new website then you will probably have seen a loads of different web hosting deals on offer and you’re probably thinking ‘How do I choose the right one?’

One of the quickest ways to set up a website is to go with a free web host but just because it’s a quick solution, does not mean it is necessarily the best solution. Free web hosting generally comes with a number of limitations, as the company will always want to get something out of providing you with a website or else it simply isn’t worth their while.

Sometimes choosing a free hosting solution can be a great way of keeping costs to a minimum but you should always be aware of how this could impact the success of your website and how you want to develop it further along the road.

Let’s take a look at some of the main differences between paid and free hosting so you can make your own mind up whether it is a solution that can work for you:

Less Control – When you go for a free web host you will have much less freedom and control over your website. As an example, your web host provider may use your website for advertising and you won’t have any say in the type of adverts or sometimes how many adverts they add to your site. If you’re looking for a professional looking website then you might want to avoid having all manner of ads popping up on your site.

Additional Costs – Although much of the required elements are ‘free’, there can often be a catch when it comes to what you actually get for free. Most free web hosts will either not allow you to use your own domain name or they will charge you if you want to use one. They provide you with a subdomain that runs off their domain name.

Another thing that you might end up having to pay for is additional space. Unless you are planning to have a small website with small volumes of traffic, you will need to have a decent amount of bandwidth and if your traffic increases then the speed of your website could be seriously slow with free web hosting.

Customer Support – One of the other downsides of using a free web host is that you will not be entitled to any customer support. If you are having issues with your website then you may really struggle without any support.

When you’re deciding whether to go for a few web host, you should always consider your long term plans as it can be very frustrating (not to mention costly!) if you spend time building your website and investing in a digital marketing plan but then you have to start all over again. Not only do you risk having to rebuild a new website from scratch but if you change the domain name you will have wasted any marketing you have done that relates to the previous website’s domain name.

Ultimately, it is totally down to you whether you are a happy to take on the future risks of a free web host. If you really need to keep costs down then it may just do the job for you but if you are setting up a business that will rely heavily on website content or features to drive interest and/or sales then you will probably be better off opting for a paid web host solution.

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02 Jan 2017

Should I Start Blogging in 2017?

If you are a business owner then you have probably thought about starting a blog, or if you haven’t given it any thought then maybe it is time that you did! If you’re not sure exactly what a blog is, take a look at this handy guide – Introduction to Blogging. It can take less an hour to setup a blog and get started. All you need is a solid hosting provider and some content to get started!

When blogging was first introduced there was a conception that it was for people who like to have their say and give their opinion on whatever area of expertise (or in many cases lack of expertise) that they held without always adding any great value.

In the current day, blogging has transformed into a powerful business marketing strategy that business owners can’t afford to miss out on and I’ll explain why:

 

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

The key to getting increased traffic to your website is to rank highly in the search engines. Publishing a regular blog will enable you to rank higher as you will have more content that gets indexed. Links to your website will also influence the SEO ranking. In order to get other sites linking to yours you’ll need to create great content that adds value.

 

  1. Attract new Customers

If you can write a blog that people either enjoy reading or find useful, then they are more likely to do custom with you. Let’s say for example, you are a Plumber and you write a blog on how to fix a dripping tap, people who want to fix their dripping tap are likely to head to the Internet for the solution. Whilst you might think this is doing you out of business because you are advising them how to do it themselves, they may not have found your services otherwise. Plus, they will remember your website (or their internet browser will) when they are looking for someone to do a bigger plumbing job.

If you create a blog that is great quality, people are also compelled to share it with friends and family, increasing your reach every time your blog gets a share! Find out more about how Social Media Marketing can help your business.

 

  1. Boost your Reputation

If you have high quality, valuable and professional content in your blog then your business will be seen in the same way. Credibility is a big factor in marketing and you can get ahead of the competition by creating blogs that boost your reputation as a highly competent business. Try and become an “expert” in your field and start writing quality content focused on your market.

 

  1. It doesn’t take much time or money

If you already have a website then you probably already have the blog functionality available to use. Writing a blog every fortnight shouldn’t take too long, especially when you’re writing about something that you know inside out. If you’re not confident with writing or you want to develop something really creative and don’t have the skills yourself, you could pay someone else to do it at a fairly reasonable price. You will probably find that the investment turns out to more than pay for itself.

  1. Interact with your Customers to find out what they want

One of the great things about blogs is that people can add comments. Perhaps there is a service that people want and you currently don’t provide because you thought there wasn’t any demand. If Customers use comments to ask for this service, you’re getting that you couldn’t get through and channel other than social media.

There are many other great reasons to start writing blogs but these ones alone show you that you should start blogging if you haven’t already. You can even do it part time to start off with and see how it goes. Maybe it’ll give you enough income to leave your job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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30 Oct 2016

How To Customize The Text Editor of Your WordPress Site

WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform and over time has almost become a full framework for applications. One thing that hasn’t evolved much with time is the text editor or the kitchen sink. Users have been resorting to plugins to add functionality and to give it some style. While WordPress 4.0 did dramatically improve the editor, there’s still plenty of room left for more customization and improvement.

Why Would You Customize The Editor?

One of the biggest problems with the editor is that you still have to click the preview button to get a feel of how your front end looks. When you add up the time spent switching between your previews and back to your editor to make additional content changes, you’d be surprised how much time is wasted. Basically, you’ll instantly receive the benefit of a true WYSIWYG editor when you customize the text editor to look and function like the front end of your site.

If you’re a reseller or build WordPress sites for people, then you know that a lot of your clients aren’t going to be technically capable of managing their own sites or changing content. This is when they end up calling you at 4AM to tell you that they accidentally removed something when they tried to edit their site.

This happens a lot…

Having a true WYSIWYG editor for your text editor will dramatically reduce all of these mishaps. Why doesn’t WordPress have a true front-end editor yet? No one knows but the promise of having one has been on the horizon for years and competitors such as Weebly and Squarespace have made their sites super user friendly by adding front-end editors. It may be because there’s a downside to the front-end editors in terms of functionality and content flow when creating content.

 

Not only that but most of the front-end editors that are offered by those competitors aren’t solid, have bugs, create disgusting code and don’t have things such as Meta boxes. So while you can try to use a plugin like Visual Composer, be warned that not only does it create messy code but they’re often buggy and unreliable. I can’t count the number of times I’ve clicked save and nothing happened or things were deleted for no reason.

Warning: This is an advanced tutorial and beginner things like WordPress installation won’t be explained. You should have knowledge of how WordPress works and CSS before beginning.

wordpress-responsive

Step 1 – A Fresh Install

Make sure you’re doing this on a brand new fresh install of WordPress, preferably a remote version on your own computer. It shouldn’t need to be said but don’t do this with someone’s website to test things out, do this on a test website, try out a free theme if you need to.

Step 2 – Understanding the Core

Once there’s same sample content via your fresh WordPress install and a fresh theme to look at, you have to understand how the core of WordPress works and the functions of the text editor to get the most out of it. TinyMCE is a great tool but it’s completely ignorant of anything going on outside the editor. There’s one core file that controls TinyMCE but thankfully for us, the creators have allowed us to load additional stylesheets into it.

While it’s great that ever since 3.0.0, you’ve been able to add stylesheets in a function called add_editor_style in includes/theme.php, we’re going to be looking at more efficient ways to call the function. The very first thing we need to do is look for a file called editor-style.css. Does this file exist already for your theme?

The editor should look for the file editor-style.css by default but we can check for this in the development console. It’s F12 for most browsers and on the right hand pane, we can easily see that it indeed is pulling style from editor-style.css. A quick re-cap so far:

  • WordPress is powered by a powerful editor called TinyMCE but it lacks some core functionality that we’re going to be messing with
  • TinyMCE while it does come with core styling allows for the overwriting of its styling with a native function in WordPress
  • WordPress calls this function add_editor_style in includes/theme.php to allow people to do such a thing

Step 3 – Making Some Changes

Taking the steps above, if you’ve determined that there is an editor’s stylesheet in your theme’s folder, then you want to make sure you save a backup of this file and copy it. Call it something like custom-editor-style.css and place it in the exact same folder location. This is far more efficient than backing up the entire theme and database.

Next, we need for WordPress to actively search for that file rather than trying to find the default one. To do this, navigate to your theme’s folder and look for functions.php. We need to open this up and call add_editor_style to make sure that it’s going to use your new stylesheet rather than the old one.

Add the following code to the theme’s function.php and when you’re done, simply hit save. If you’re editing directly from a FTP client, make sure you re-upload the file.

// This is the code for adding a custom stylesheet to the WordPress post editor

function my_theme_add_editor_styles() {

  add_editor_style( 'custom-editor-style.css' );

}

 

add_action( 'admin_init', 'my_theme_add_editor_styles' );

Where custom-editor-style.css is, if you’ve named your new file something different, change it to that name. Next, we need to make sure that the editor is actually using the stylesheet and the default stylesheet isn’t overriding your new one. Simply look at the inspector to confirm this. Earlier we confirmed you’d need some CSS knowledge so you should have a few changes already made in that stylesheet to see if any of the changes have gone through.

Are the changes being tracked by the backend as well? Let’s do a quick test by changing the color of your headers. Find the following in your stylesheet or add it if it’s not there. By default, all of the headers should be listed.

h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 {color: red; font-size: 35px;}

You can make the color whatever hexcode or color you want and you change the font-size to whatever you want but this is for testing purposes at this point. Is everything working great so far? It should be but let’s test something else by adding a little splash of border to the images in TinyMCE.

For this, all we have to do is target the TinyMCE main styling ID which is by default, #tinymce. This is the ID that it automatically generates in the body, regardless of the WordPress version you’re using, as long as it has TinyMCE. When we generate a border for our images, we should see the results instantly. This is the last CSS example we’re going to do because the entire point of this is to make sure that we have complete control over the styling of TinyMCE.

To generate a border around all TinyMCE images, simply type in the following in the stylesheet we made:

#tinymce img {border: 5px solid blue;}

From this point on, you should be able to style everything the way you want it now that we’ve confirmed the style changes are taking effect. If you’re new to CSS or styling, there are plenty of guides online such as Codeacademy that’s 100% free and has great tutorials on styling and a lot more.

What about Sites That Don’t Have an Existing Editor Stylesheet?

If this is the case, which it usually isn’t, you can simply open up the custom-editor-style.css file and replace the contents of that file with this:

@import url(‘my-style.css’);

The first time you do this, don’t panic if things look broken. It will take some time going back and forth, making sure changes were saved, etc. The steps above should give you a nice base to work with and if you’re new to styling, it should give you some practice as well. One great file to look at is the basic styling sheet for the theme Twenty Sixteen. This is a nice starting point and can help you map out your styling strategy for customizing your own.

Conclusion

That’s simply it. With a couple of steps you can begin editing the default look and behavior of your editor to feel far more like a WYSIWYG editor and like the front-end. There’s so much more you can do with the editor as well, such as adding styling based on different post types or custom post types. For these advanced tutorials, we’d highly recommend consulting with the WordPress documentation before touching anything.

While there are some plugins that do this for you, they need to be constantly updated, most of them are outdated, they slow down the site and plugins like Visual Composer as mentioned earlier are notorious for bugs, breaking your site, producing messy code and slowing down the site. The steps mentioned above are a great starting point for creating a truly customized editor. We’re still years away from a fully functional WYSIWYG TinyMCE that works flawlessly.

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30 Oct 2016

How To Increase your WordPress Site Conversions With Psychology And Colors

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of psychology behind the conversion rate of your website and influencing factors. One of those biggest factors aside from having a user friendly design is the colors of your website. A great design only takes you so far but if you have a poor color scheme, you could be bleeding potential customers.

Why do colors affect us so much? You may not even realize it but when you’re browsing a site, there’s three different factors to take into consideration when theorizing how color affects people so much.

First, there’s contrast. The contrast of two colors is simply the difference between them. In art, you use contrast so that you can focus your attention towards a specific element and this is the exact same thing in web design. You use two different colors not only to grab the viewers’ attention and focus on a particular element but it’s also useful for readability. For example, light font on a light background is poor design and contrast.

Complementation is the second factor in color theory. When you look at a color wheel, you might notice there’s two colors that seem to be the complete opposite of each other. Red certainly looks nothing like green but it’s the complementary color. These colors when they’re used together make a great theme and have been shown to increase your conversion ratings.

Finally, there’s vibrancy. In general, this is the mood that a color sets for the visitor. Different studies have shown that warmer colors such as red, yellow or orange have been known to energize people. However, cooler colors such as blue, purple and green have put people into a more relaxed state. Red is one color that’s known to make people alert and green is known to get people in the shopping mood.

color-palete

Colors & Their Vibrancy

How over millions of years have we developed a mindset to react different to colors? No one truly knows because this isn’t something that we actively taught ourselves. Also, different cultures approach different colors differently as well. For the primary focus of this article, we’re going to focus on increasing your conversions with the western audience and what studies have shown.

When designing your theme or site, keep all of this in mind and think about the demographic you’re targeting. It could be the difference between a 10% bounce rate and a 60% bounce rate with a dramatic drop in conversions or clicks.

Red – This color is known to keep people alert and put people on edge. It’s the color of excitement and it’s also the color of passion. Numerous lingerie and adult online stories try to utilize red whenever possible, such as the front page of Victoria’s Secret showcasing red lingerie. Obviously there’s a lot of other factors as to why that company is successful but when you want someone to feel excited or passionate, this is your go to color.

Yellow – When you think about the color yellow, you probably visualize the summer time and a nice cool breeze. Yellow is warmth and also represents hospitality. This color can put people into a relaxed state of mind or give them a little more trustworthy feeling of the site they’re on.

Orange – As you may have guessed, orange is usually associated with Thanksgiving and Halloween. Orange is the color that represents the start of autumn and harvest. This is common tradition for the west as September through November is when Thanksgiving and Halloween occur. However, this color isn’t particularly known to affect one’s mood so much above the others.

Blue – There’s primarily two different mood factors here for blue. First, there’s the negative context of blue which means sadness or depression. It’s commonly used by pharmaceutical companies trying to sell anti-depressants and the sales numbers don’t lie, it works. However, in a positive context it means authority, power and trust. Believe it or not, a blue tie in an interview can give you an authority look. This is the same reason banks love to use blue on their logos.

Green – This color is one of the broadest colors out there that can be used for a wide variety of things. First, there’s the luck of the Irish, which is why you commonly see green themes everywhere during the month of March. Then, you have pro-environmental groups that use green as their main theme because it represents nature and environment. However, green can also be used by get rich quick sites or sites trying to get you to buy something because it embodies the traits of jealousy and envy.

You see some rich smug guy on a get rich quick page driving a nice car? There’s more than likely pictures of money with some hints of green on it. This is designed to make you jealous to bring you one step closer to clicking that purchase button. It’s not because rich people are obsessed with the color green.

White – This is the most common background color used on websites. It represents peace or purity and isn’t threatening in any manner. It’s also used for religion, weddings and hospitals.

Black – This is the most depressing color on the list as people commonly think of death and formality with this color. However, for web design purposes, if used correctly, it can be a color of force or control.

Brown – This is not an appealing color for your website and in most cases should be avoided but it represents the Earth and health. It’s known to be stable or dependable.

Pink – The stereotypical color that is thought to be every woman’s favorite. Why are western women so attracted to the color pink? The reason for this is because pink is known to represent fun, childhood and sweetness. It’s also thought to be the color of femininity.

emotional-triggers-of-colors

Understanding It All and How to Use Different Colors

In order to effectively gauge what color scheme works best for your WordPress site, you need to understand the conversion funnel or at least have one mapped out. While the colors are being taken into consideration, there’s a specific process that happens when a user comes to your website. First, they have to become aware of the elements you want their attention drawn to.

Second, they need to become interested in what you’re selling. Third, they need to have the desire to press forward with the decision. Finally, there’s the conversion.

Awareness – This is essentially the marketing of your website or your brand. A brand can exist on its own but your website won’t get customers or traffic simply by existing. People need to be aware that your site exists and you need to understand your target audience in order to attract customers.

Interest – Once your visitors have landed on your site, you now need to interest them. You need to act fast because the average user only spends a few seconds on a website before they close the tab, creating a bounce. A bounce is when someone visits your page and leaves it without visiting any other links on the page. This negatively impacts your SEO. This stage should focus on the color scheme, your headlines, your images and compelling copy content.

Desire – Anyone can build interest in a product, if they weren’t interested already but now you need to give them the tool to want what you’re selling. You need to conclude with a multitude of different things in order to build desire other than your product simply existing. You need testimonials, you need a great color scheme that represents the mood of your product and audience and you should give the customers options.

When you’re planning out a site, it’s a general rule of thumb to have 3 different colors selected that best represents your demographic, your brand and your product. Not only do you want your design to be visually impressive but using the guide above, you want something that will positively impact their mood based on what you’re selling. For example, selling wedding services with a primarily black theme will tank your conversions.

You also have to take colors into consideration when designing your call to action button. The call to action button is when people finally reach the desire stage and are ready to purchase. This is the button clicked when they’re ready to make a purchase. Studies have shown that red call to action buttons have been the most effective for most websites.

Before you even begin, what is the goal of your website? What do you hope to accomplish?

One Time Sales – Are you hoping to capture customers for a one time sale?

Email Opt In – Do you hope to capture emails so that you can send our promotional offers and newsletters?

Recurring Sales – Do you hope to acquire customers for a monthly or yearly service?

Affiliation – Are you affiliating for another website and sending visitors to another sales page?

Maximizing your WordPress conversion rate has very little to do with your personal preferences. You really have to step into the mindset of your customers and think about what they want to see and what kind of tone you’re setting when someone first sees the website.

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30 Oct 2016

How To Run A Successful Development Company

Running your own company is a very daunting challenge and task. It’s not for the weak or the easily defeated as most business owners give up within the first year of opening a new business. Running your own low budget re-seller hosting company requires a lot of technical knowledge, great customer service skills, great design and great development skills as well. I speak from experience coming from one of the most mismanaged development studios I’ve ever encountered.

why be a reseller

Why Be a Reseller?

It’s hard enough finding clients that will pay an appropriate price for a design or development but when you do acquire those customers, wouldn’t you want to lock them in for a recurring fee? You’re in complete control as a reseller. You host their websites on another host and they pay you a monthly fee that you set so they don’t have to deal with the host when website issues occur.

Choosing a Host

This is one of the most important aspects of running a successful web development company. You want your customers to be on a reliable host with great uptime, quick loading times and excellent customer service. Believe me, there are a lot of horrendous hosts out there. Here are a few qualities we look for in a host:

Fast Customer Service – When there’s an outage or something happens, you want quick technical support. For this reason, we prefer to look for hosts that offer live chat or 24/7 support. You don’t want your site down all night only to leave a voice mail or submit a ticket. These hosts are often backed up with tickets when they show up to work because they don’t have the budget to hire a 24/7 support staff.

cPanel – I know people have different preferences but we highly prefer cPanel access. It allows you to easily install server software, manage databases, manage emails and access anything needed server side with the click of a button. Some hosts require you to contact them before you can even export a database or access it. This is unacceptable for anyone running a reseller business.

Load Times – What’s the response time like of sites hosted there? Do they have a lot of downtime? You can look up a hosting provider on isitdownrightnow.com and easily see how often they’re down. Also, people can leave their angry reviews in addition to seeing the main site’s response time throughout the day.

Choosing a host is vital but the most important aspect outside of hosting is what will impact your business the most. We can go into detail about choosing a company name, establishing your brand and developing your logo but at the end of the day, a lot of those things will come down to personal preference. Take some time and gather your thoughts to think of a company name that represents who you want to be and how you want people to see you.

Look up other web development companies around you for some inspiration.

Running a successful reseller business can be broken down into several different parts. First, there’s the design aspect of running a development studio. If your designs are bad or lack user experience, the only clients you’re going to obtain are difficult and cheap clients. They’re a headache and will keep you up all night, in addition to wanting 24/7 free technical support. High end clients that pay the big bucks know what to look for in terms of a good design. Your designs need to be brilliant, make sense and have a lot of user experience coded into them.

Next, you need to have a line of customer and technical support for when things go inevitably wrong. Unfortunately, things go wrong sometimes without any warning or clear reason. You need to have someone you can rely on that can be there to fix things when that happens. Next, you need to have a project leader or CEO that’s well managed and knows how to make good use of time. A mismanaged office is chaotic, projects never launch on time, the sites launch with low quality and clients are often angry.

Finally, there’s the matter of acquiring the clients in the first place. This is time consuming and hectic when you first start out, especially when you’re new to the game and you don’t have a network of resources to help get your name out there. Everyone runs their company differently but here, we’ll go over the core aspects of ensuring you run a successful reseller hosting development company.

As a general rundown, this is how things should go:

  • A proposition is sent to a client to try and obtain their business
  • An outline is made based on their needs and their budget
  • Research is then done to come up with a well thought out design
  • The design draft is then sent to the client for approval
  • A milestone payment system is setup and once the terms are agreed upon, the design process begins
  • Once the design is finished, it is sent to the developers
  • The developers implement the design on a testing website for functionality testing and quality assurance
  • The project manager/leader is in close contact with the client to ensure things are going smoothly and on schedule
  • If not done previously, a domain and hosting is purchased by the client and at a location of their choosing (preferably your reseller server but sometimes clients have their own hosting preferences)
  • Once the client approves the site for launch, the site can then be launched on the domain of their choosing
  • The user access and everything needed is then handed over to the client and the final payment is made
  • Any further contracts or agreements that continue after the site launch are then carried out

 

The Design

There seem to be a common theme with small development studio designers. A lot of them think in terms of artistic vision and their own personal preference rather than using logical thought process and user experience when designing a website. This is the first step in building a website before it’s sent off to the developer. A design is usually made in a PSD format and sent to a web developer to be implemented, usually on a CMS platform like WordPress for user customization.

Believe me when I say an “artistic” designer who has the thought process of their self-preference on designs is one of the most frustrating things to deal with as a developer who understands user experience and how users will navigate a website. A design needs to encompass a company’s brand, have a great color scheme and have logistical thought put into it as to how the user will use the site.

Customer & Technical Support

As a reseller and a development studio, you’re going to hear from your clients a lot. It’s important that you’ve set an hourly rate for your studio that isn’t cheap to dissuade people from getting into the mindset that they’re entitled to free technical support around the clock. At the time same time, it’s equally as important that you have a line of support that is technically capable of handling common issues and figuring out complicated ones.

Hiring a friend for cheap that has no idea what they’re doing makes the company look foolish and usually results in people trying to fix things they shouldn’t touch like emails. As a result, this can cause emails to disappear or websites to go down. Don’t cheap out on the technical support.

project management

 

Project Management & Time Management

The #1 most frustrating thing for a web developer is to deal with mismanaged project managers and CEOs. As a small business, CEOs will more than likely be involved with multiple aspects of the site such as design and client management. Managing your time is highly important to running a successful development studio.

It is a project manager’s job to make sure a developer has everything they need to ensure the outline for a website above is being followed. Launching an incomplete website will set you back weeks or even months ahead of schedule as you’re frantically trying to find content to put on the site or trying to fill up a space that the client never asked to be added in the first place.

You need to effectively manage your time according to the outline above and make sure it is followed. Mismanaged project managers are incredibly frustrating to deal with.

Acquiring Clients

Obviously, the most important part of business is acquiring clients. Finding clients online is difficult without a portfolio or genuine customer reviews. Having an established Linkedin with people who can vouch for you is a great start but one place you can start is your Chamber of Commerce. This place is ripe with business owners who are looking to expand their operation and get more customers.

Local advertising isn’t something you should underestimate as you can get a good portfolio built up on the people around you. Not only that but the word of mouth spreads fast and leads to more clients. As said above though, without a good design, a managed project manager and great technical support, you could ruin your own brand locally before it even has a chance to get off the ground.

For local advertising, go door to door (that allows it) and advertise your services to help them expand their presence online. If they already have a website, offer to do a re-design. Print flyers and newspaper ads to help raise awareness of your company.

For online advertising, pay per click for local search terms such as “web design Columbus Ohio” are highly effective. Funneling local traffic to your own website (which is hopefully well designed) is an excellent way to build up a portfolio and spread the word of your business, which brings in more customers.

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