Trends in WordPress Theme Designs

Friday, January 18th, 2013

If you are anything like me, I am not a trend setter. I wait for enough people to be following some trend before I look into it. I am the same with website design. I want to see what works with other websites first, then I’ll make changes to the way I do things.

Windows 8 Design Trends

Microsoft released Windows 8 and has defined a new standard that web designers and developers must take into account. The old thought about how your web page should look was to provide navigation at the top and along one side. Your web page contained some graphics, but was mostly text. You used a color scheme that was pleasing on the eye and not outlandishly colorful.

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How Do Search Engines Work?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Engine

Search Engines find web pages that contain the information you want. How do they know what pages are best for you? Where do they find all the web pages? Who decides what page appears first?

There is a lot of talk about SEO these days. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. People sell their services as SEO experts to optimize your website for search engines. This is great if you know what search engines are and how they work. For the new small business website owner this may seem like a new language.

This article seeks to help small business owners understand how search engines work. (more…)

What does the Best Technical Support Look Like?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The most important thing to me when I purchase an item is to make sure that if I ever need a question answered quickly that I have a place to call and will get in contact with a competent, live person immediately. I would like to talk about two very different experiences I have had recently with calling support, one good and the other poor. Both of these experiences happened the week September 5, 2012.

What does poor customer support look like?

Samsung DVD PlayerLet me start with the not so good call. I own a Blue ray DVD player that I use to stream movies from Netflix. Recently I began to have problems watching movies. I could connect to Netflix and look at my selections fine. When I made my choice the movie wouldn’t play.

I called Samsung, the manufacturer of the DVD player. I was on hold for 20 minutes. When I did finally got a live person, they were difficult to understand. They tried several different things and nothing worked. Finally they told me to call Netflix. It was even worse with Netflix. I finally fixed the problem by looking online. It seems to be a common problem. I can now watch whatever title I want.

What did I learn? Neither Samsung nor Netflix provide adequate technical support. They are examples of what not to do.

What does excellent technical support look like?

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What is the best green web host?

Monday, August 20th, 2012

What is the best green web host for small business? That depends on what criteria you use to define green.

In a previous article I talked about what green web host is. The objective in green hosting is to make no impact on the environment through the use of polluting fuels to generate electricity such as oil or coal. The Green hosts do this by purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) and by using whatever energy they do use efficiently.

How do you evaluate green web hosting?

solar panelMy initial criterion for the best green web host is a web host that uses as little if any traditional energy sources. I found only one web host that meets that criterion. That was Green Webhost out of the UK. They have a solar data center located outside of Los Angeles, CA.

I decided to further define my criteria. I am looking for reliable web services provided by a company that has been in business for at least 5 years and has over 100,000 hosted domains. I also opened up my criteria to include those companies that use REC’s to offset their traditional electric consumption at least 100%. I also require that the company use whatever energy they do use in the most efficient way.

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10 Tips for Better Small Business SEO: Get Links to Your Website Free

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

chainIf you have spent any time trying to get your website listed in Google you have probably run across the SEO experts advising you to get as many relevant links as possible to your website. This is great advice, but how do you do it? Do you have to pay for links? Are link exchanges always bad?

There are many ways that you can get people to link to your website or web pages that are free. Since I like free that is where I will focus my attention.

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How to Use CSS3 to Create Smooth Transitions for Mouse Hover

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Cascading style sheets 3Cascading Style sheets have been used to control the look and feel of a web page for years. They are useful for defining transitions in properties like the background color when the user’s mouse either hovers or focuses on an element like a link or menu option. Prior to CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets version 3) these transitions happened instantly.

This article is a little more technical than most of my writing. It is meant for people who are comfortable writing styles in CSS.

In CSS3 there are new effects for the : hover or :focus elements that allow you to control the transitions from not having the mouse focused or hovering to focused or hovering. These new features allow you to control the CSS property (or properties) to be transitioned; the duration of the transition; the timing function of the transition; and an optional delay.

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Which scripting language is better for SEO ASP.net or PHP ?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

ASp.net logoIf you are like me you want the best, fastest and easiest platform to work in that also provides the best search engine optimization (SEO) possible. Is there any advantage to using PHP over ASP.net? Many SEO professionals have said that ASP.net is slower to be indexed than a page that has an html or PHP extension. An ASP page has a .ASP or .ASPx extensions. Paul Anthony posted on SEOMoz,“ASP.NET , generally speaking – is a web spider’s worst nightmare.”

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4 Common SEO Misconceptions of Small Businesses

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

SEOThere are many misconceptions about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that small businesses have. One is that every web designer or developer knows how to perform great SEO. Other misconceptions focus on the platform that the website is created in, such as whether Linux or windows is better, or which web host is better, or whether WordPress of Joomla is better. This article will help to dispel these misconceptions.

Every web designer or developer knows how to perform great SEO

Web designers are trained in how to create web graphics. They know how to make things look right from a visual perspective. This entails designing and creating images and layouts. Is there a menu on the right or left or both? Is there a navigation bar at the top or bottom or both? Web developers or coders create the HTML and Javascript and PHP to implement the design of the web designer. They know how to create all the programming code that makes your web page look the way it does.

Neither a web developer nor a web designer would have specific training in SEO by default. The concepts of SEO do not fall under either category, but in a category of its own. Knowing how to use keywords and what keywords to use is not usually taught to these professionals. You need to make sure you have a professional SEO expert to help you in these areas, or learn as much as you can yourself.

Which operating system is best for SEO?

The two most popular operating systems for web hosts are Linux and Windows. The operating system provides a transparent platform for delivering your web pages to your visitors. Both Windows and Linux have their advantages and disadvantages. The operating system you choose should be the one that best suits your needs. If you will be using ASP.net then you will need Windows.

What governs SEO is not the operating system, but the web pages and the links from other websites. Do the web pages use the best keywords in the text and headings? Are these keywords also in the title of the page? How many other websites do you have linking to your website and what words are they using to link to you? All of these affect SEO. The operating system does not.

What is the best web host for SEO?

A web host is a company that provides you with a place to store your web pages and website for your small business. They may offer either a Linux or Windows server. They may provide several Content Management Systems (CMS).

The web host you choose does not affect your SEO. Most of the work done for search engine optimization is done on the web page itself. Some of it is done through the links from other websites. The web host you choose does not define how you create your web pages.

I use BlueHost as my web host. BlueHost is the best small business web host in my opinion. They provide the best support in the industry. They are always available and competent. Every person they have is able to solve your problems. I would not use any other web host other than BlueHost.

What Content Management System (CMS) is Best for SEO?

A content management system (CMS) provides a way for you to easily update and create web pages. There are many CMSs available on the market today. Some are designed to create a blog (or web log) and others are designed for a more free form web page. Most web hosts provide several options for you.

WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are three examples of free content management systems. They can all be used to create a professional. Well designed web site. They can all be used equally to create great SEO. It is not the CMS that you choose, but how you use it. They differ in the complexity of the application. WordPress is the easiest CMS by far. Drupal is the most complex, but also the most versatile. It will require you to hire a specific Drupal developer to create your website.

All of these misconceptions can confuse you. What you need to focus on is good SEO practices. I have written a few articles on SEO and also offer free eBook on SEO Tactics that will help you to develop your own SEO practices.

Web Hosting 101: Tips and Advice

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Web Hosting BasicsI have written about various issues in web hosting for small businesses. They range from installing WordPress to choosing the best small business web host to what’s the best plugins for WordPress. In each individual article I have done my best to provide the most accurate and complete information possible.

There are many how to articles in my posts and pages. Te only problem is that you have to look for the pages.

Many people have asked me if there is one place that they can go to get a step by step description of how to get their small business website on the internet. They have asked for in depth information that I have not provided elsewhere. They want a guide to walk them step by step from an idea to a website that is on the internet.

I will explain in my eBook all you need to start your own small business website, including:

  • What is a web host?
  • What is a DNS server?
  • What is a URL?
  • What do you need to get a website on the internet?
  • How to choose a domain name?
  • How to choose a web host?
  • What are the various types of web hosts?
  • How do you create the actual website?
  • How do you put your content on the website?

I have responded to your requests and produced an eBook that I will offer free. You can have a copy of the free eBook, just click the link below to download it now.

Web Hosting Basics free eBook download

What is ASP.NET?

Monday, May 21st, 2012

There are many different ways to create dynamic websites. A dynamic website is a website where the pages are generated at the time a visitor loads the page. They can be a result of what the person does or clicks on to get the page to load. They may require that a person enter some information such as their location to provide location specific pages.

ColdFusion is an example of a software application designed to do just that. Microsoft wanted to develop their own way of creating dynamic websites. Their answer was ASP.NET

ASP.NET was developed by Microsoft to provide a way for programmers to create dynamic websites. ASP stands for Active Server Pages. ASP was designed to provide a server side script engine for creating dynamic web pages and was later improved and released as ASP.NET.

ASP.NET was built on the Common Language Runtime (CLR) allowing programmers to use any language that is support by .NET. Some examples of these languages are C#, Jscript, J#, Visual Basic, Chrome, Cobra, C++/CLI, IronPython and IronRuby. This means you are not limited to one specific scripting language to develop in.

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7 Reasons to choose a paid web host vs. a free web host

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Free Vs Paid Web Hosting

If I can get my website hosted for free why would I pay to have it hosted? It seems like a straight forward question, but the answer is anything but simple.

First we must understand what you get and don’t get with free hosting. Most free web hosting providers give you enough space for a fairly small sized website. This is enough for some small businesses.

Google LogoThen you usually get some kind of webpage creator software that lets you fill in the blanks and it creates the pages for you. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s the best of point and click. Google does a great job with their implementation.

Many free web hosting services don’t even force you to host their advertising. By this I mean that there are many that force you to have their banner across the top advertising whatever they want on your website. More and more, free web hosting sites are doing away with this.

This all sounds great doesn’t it? Why would anyone pay for web hosting?

What do you get with paid web hosting?

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What is Bandwidth?

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Bandwidth: image of speedometerWhat is bandwidth and why is it important to you when choosing a small business web host?

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of information you can communicate at a given time. What I mean by this on a website is how much information your visitor can get all at once. This also means how many visitors can come to your small business website at the same time

In the old days of using dial up modems the bandwidth was 56 kilobytes per second. Many businesses today use a T1 line. A T1 line has a bandwidth of 1.544 megabits per second. A very large corporation may use an OC3 line. An OC3 line has a bandwidth of 155 megabits per second.

What does bandwidth translate into for your visitors?

It is speed of downloading your web pages and pictures.

Many web hosts confuse bandwidth with their monthly transfer statistic. You will usually have to dig to find out more about bandwidth.

BlueHost claims to have unlimited file transfer per month. This means that as long as your visitors can get to (Bluehost is up 99.9% of the time)  your small business website they can download all the information they want.

BlueHost uses an OC-192 as their backbone. An OC192 can transfer 9.6 gigabits per second. This is about 9,000 times more information than a T1.

This bandwidth is shared among all the websites hosted by BlueHost. Speed is especially important to BlueHost’s business and ecommerce customers.  Those customers need bandwidth solutions that can handle high volumes of traffic.  They need websites that load quickly and that are accessible as close to 100% of the time as possible.

BlueHost has responded well to their customer’s needs for a fast and reliable network at an affordable price. This is why I chose to host my website with BlueHost and continue to stay with them. To find out more about why I chose BlueHost click here.

BlueHost is the best web host for small business websites. Click here to sign up today.

What is Disk Space?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Hard diskDisk space is a term used to describe how much information you can store on a computer. When you are considering a web host you will want enough space to store all the information you want on your website.

Most web hosting providers will quote the amount of disk space that you will have in Gigabytes. So how big is a gigabyte?

About 114 minutes of uncompressed CD-quality audio can be stored in 1 gigabyte.

Most web pages are very small. They are usually measured in kilobytes.  A page out of an encyclopedia will be about 10 kilobytes. There are 1 million kilobytes in 1 gigabyte. You could store 100,000 pages of an encyclopedia in 1 gigabyte.

Most images, or pictures that you will see on the internet are less than 1 megabyte. There are 1,000 megabytes in 1 gigabyte.

A 1024×1024 pixel image with 256 colors is about 1 megabyte. Most images on web pages are much smaller. The images on most of my posts are about 300 X 200 pixels or less. These files are less than a third of a megabyte.

I can store about 3,000 high quality images in 1 gigabyte.

You will need to look at what type of information you will provide on your web page. If you will only be providing web pages and images you will be fine with 20 gigabytes.

If you plan on providing high quality videos you will want as much space as you can afford. Another option for providing videos is to use Youtube.com to host your videos. They are free and almost everyone knows them. You can also embed your videos in your web page so that people do not leave your website to view the videos.

Many shared server web hosts provide unlimited disk space. Bluehost is one example of this.

To find out more about the offerings of various web hosts visit my web hosting review page by clicking here.

Can I use Moodle and WordPress on the same website?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Moodle LogoIn short the answer is yes. The key to hosting more than one application on your website is to install them into 2 different directories. Moodle and WordPress are applications that can be installed on many websites using simplescripts.

BlueHost provides a very simple interface for installing your applications.

By default WordPress gets installed into your root html directory. This means that when a person visits your site they will see your WordPress managed website. So when they type www.yoursite.com into their browser they will be connected to WordPress on your site.

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What open source Content Management System is best for your small business?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

What are the top 3 open source content management systems?

The top three Content Management Systems open source are Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. All three are very established, have many features that make it simple and convenient to enter information and are extremely dependable.

Open Source means that they are free of charge and the source code for the software is included. This means you can modify the way the programs work. Since they are open source there are many people using these systems and developing supporting applications to enhance the basic installations.

All three of these are easy to setup on a web server. Most web hosts provide them as options to install free of charge. It’s as easy as point and click. They begin to set themselves apart when you look at ease of use and their ability to create very complex websites

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What Makes a Good About Page?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

One of the most neglected pages on many small business websites is the about page. Many business owners don’t know what the purpose of these pages is, or what they can be used for. I hope after reading this article you will see that this is a vital part of your well organized web presence.

What should you include on your about page?

There are 4 basic questions you need to include on your about page.

  1. Who you are
  2. What is your expertise
  3. What problem or concern of your visitors are you able to solve
  4. How can they contact you and what is their next step

Hopefully in answering these questions you will be able to express what the purpose of your website is. It is amazing how many about pages do not answer this question. Many about pages say nothing about the website.

You need to include information about the people who are responsible for the website or the business. The internet is about connections. If you are not making connections with real people you are failing at creating a good website. You need to include your accomplishments.

You must address the need that will be met by anyone who visits your website on your about page. How can they add value to their life by coming to your website? You need to be specific about how you will meet those needs.

You also must have a way for people to contact you. Email is the way we communicate on the internet. The least you must have is a way for people to email you or possibly sign up for your newsletter or blog. Links to your social networking pages are also becoming indispensable.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkdIn are all standards in the business world. If you have a page on these sites it is a great way to stay in contact. You will also want a way to post your blog entries to these sites are part of our web presence plan.

copyblogger abot page

Copy blogger is one of my favorite about pages. http://www.copyblogger.com/about/ It addresses all of these issues.

Most of all, your about page must tell your visitors why your website is different from every other website. It must be factual and truthful.

Here are some other examples of About Us pages:

http://www.tschmeisser.com/about

http://www.markmcgall.com/me.shtml

How to upload files using cPanel

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Transferring files from your PC to your web has needs to be done using some utility such as an FTP program. Your web hosting provider should provide several options for you.

I use Bluehost to host my website. Bluehost provides cPanel as the interface for managing my web server. In cPanel I can do everything I need to do on my web server including uploading files and managing the files on my web server.

Here is a video describing how to upload, download and modify a file using File Manager in cPanel

File manager allows you to see a visual representation of your files on the web server.

  1. Log into your Bluehost account.
  2. Scroll down to files in cPanel and choose File Manager
  3. Select the directory you want to upload your files to and double click with you mouse
  4. Click on the upload button at the top of the screen.
  5. Click browse to browse files on your PC and select the directory and file you wish to upload. Then press open.
  6. You will see the file being uploaded in the bottom right of your screen.
  7. When you are done you can close this window.
  8. In the File Manager window you will need to press the reload button to verify that you file hs been uploaded
  9. Navigating in File Manager is fairly easy. In order to go to the directory above the one we are in press up one level.

In File Manage you can also download files, edit files and change permissions on files. All of this can be done through pressing one of the buttons on the tool bar. If you allow your mouse to hover over these icons the description of what they do appears, so that you can tell which button does what.

For more information about small business web hosting click here.

7 tips: What makes Great Content for Your Website

Friday, November 11th, 2011

book shelfWhy Content?

The one thing that I have learned about what makes a great website is that content is king. If you have a fantastic design with no content, nobody will come to your website. You need quality content, period. That is why you have a website in the first place right?

You want to communicate with people what your small business is all about. Content is about taking your knowledge and expertise (or borrowing someone else’s) and using it to support business goals.

What makes great content?

  1. First of all engaging articles are the meat and potatoes of great content. You need up to date, accurate, insightful and entertaining articles that relate to the topic or your website. You need to know what your visitors are interested in and provide that information. This may entail doing loads of research or it may be what you already know. It may also mean hiring a copy writer.
  2. Content can also be videos. You can either make and upload videos to Youtube or you can link to videos that have been produced by others. The idea is to provide benefit to the people who visit your website.
  3. Content can be graphics and images. These can be tables of information, charts, pictures or diagrams. Whatever helps your visitors to see the value of your company or products must be included.
  4. Content can be links to relevant websites. It’s important to connect your visitors with resources that help them in some way. Just make sure that the links you provide are not to competetors.
  5. Content can be eBooks. eBooks are electronic books that are either sold or offered for free. They are longer than a regular article and more informative. They can be a few pages to hundreds of pages long.
  6. Content can be lessons or classes. If you have some quick lessons on your products that you can offer for free it is very helpful. Be creative.
  7. Content can be a buyer’s guide. Create a buyer’s guide on the area of your business. Offer as much information as you can.

Keep in mind that whatever you choose to include on your website must provide added value to your visitors. If it doesn’t provide value don’t include just to be fancy or trendy.

I recently read a great article that will provide more insight into improving your small business website. It is 13 Things to Demand When Building a Website

As always there are more articles on small business web sites here.

Other resources: Content Marketing Today.

Five Reasons why I use WordPress

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

wordpress logoI use WordPress to manage the content on my website. I have been asked why I chose WordPress, so here is my answer.

I was looking for a way to keep my website updated without having to write code every day. I had ideas for new content, but didn’t want to get into the coding on a daily basis. WordPress allows me to easily add a page whenever I want. All I need is the text and graphics.

1. They have a visual editor that allows me to add whatever text features I want. I can see exactly what the post will look like before I post, so there is no second guessing.

2. WordPress can be enhanced using plugins. I have heard there are over 7000 plugins to add functionality to your website. I use a grammar checking plugin. It seems to work well for me.

3. The look and feel of my website can be changed easily just by changing the Theme. A Theme defines the layout, text characteristics and data handling of your website. In short it gives you control over what your visitors see when they visit your site. There are many themes that are free, but the paid ones are worth the extra money.

4. Google loves WordPress. If you want your website to be ranked well on Google it is wise to star with WordPress. Google likes the format, understands the data and gives preference to sites developed in it.

5. Most importantly WordPress is free and used by many people. It is constantly being updated and improved. Any security holes are immediately fixed. So if you are looking for an easy interface with loads of features that will grow with you as you grow, then WordPress is the platform for you.

In order to use WordPress you qill need to choose the best web host for your small business

Shared Hosting Vs Dedicated Hosting

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Best web host for small businessSo what is the difference between Shared Hosting and Dedicated Hosting?

First we need to know what is a web host? A short answer would be a web host is a place that stores your web site.

A dedicated host means that the actual server that the hosting company is using is dedicated to your website alone. Nobody is using your processor, hard drive, memory or bandwidth. In the case of a shared host, the actual hardware is being shared by you and other customers of the web hosting service provider.

You might be saying why would you want to go with shared hosting.

The answer is usually financial in nature. With a shared host you may pay $5-10 per month. With dedicated hosting you will pay at least $150 per month. If you are a small business with not much anticipated traffic you don’t need the speed and exclusivity of a dedicated server. If you are a medium to lager sized business you will need a dedicated server for your needs.

So what is the best web host for small business?

In my opinion it is bluehost. They provide both shared and dedicated servers. There is no better customer service and support in the industry. I have never been disappointed in them since I began using them 5 years ago.

To explore more you find find information about the best small business web host here.

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