Categories
blogging Services Tech and Software

Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

In case you didn’t already know, WordPress is a pretty big deal.

Nearly 80 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress. That’s basically the population of Germany, just for reference.

As a CMS (content management system), WordPress has 59% of the market share. There are also over 44,000 plugins available for WordPress that have been downloaded over a billion times.

So if we say that WordPress is a big deal, you will agree.

But like anything remotely popular, WordPress is often misunderstood. There are false myths and dated rumors we see constantly passed around. Because of our fierce love for WordPress, we wanted to take a moment to set the record straight.

Here is what you need to know about WordPress. The truths, the lies, and everything in between.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same, but they are similar

Let’s start with the most confusing. So WordPress itself is a free, open source content management system. Essentially, it’s software that allows people to create, organize, and update websites without having to manually code every page.

Now, WordPress essentially comes in two forms.

First, there is WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a blog hosting service not entirely different from Blogger. It allows a person to setup a free website that operates on a custom version of the WordPress software. This version is limited in what themes and plugins it can use.

A WordPress.com website also cannot be transferred to another host. It’s a bit of an out of the box, package deal.

WordPress.org, on the other hand, is the home of the full, open source WordPress software. If a company is building you a WordPress website, this is what they’re using. This what the site you’re on right now is using.

With the WordPress.org software, you can do just about anything.

Confused? Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

From now on, we’ll mostly be talking about the full WordPress platform (.org).

WordPress is for a lot more than blogging

Thankfully this doesn’t happen as much as it did a few years ago, but for the longest time, when we told a client we build WordPress websites, their response would be something like “but I don’t want a blog. I want a website.”

As with the .com vs .org situation, there’s good reason for confusion.

WordPress has its roots in blogging. When it was first built, WordPress was mostly for blogging (WordPress.com is still primarily for blogging). And some of the biggest WordPress websites are primarily blogs.

But WordPress today is so much more than a blogging platform. Sure, it has a beautiful and easy to use blogging system built into it still, but there are hundreds of thousands of WordPress sites that don’t even utilize their blogging functionality.

Simply put, WordPress is an all-in-one website platform. It can do everything.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

Which brings us to the next point…

WordPress is usable for websites of all sizes and functions

There are WordPress sites of all shapes and sizes. Some may think that WordPress is only suited for smaller websites with a handful of pages and a blog. This is simply not true.

Sure, we’ve built WordPress sites as small as one page. But we’ve also built WordPress sites with hundreds of pages, posts, and products.

That’s right, products.

If you’re looking to do some e-commerce, WordPress offers a powerful solution with Woocommerce. Woocommerce is technically a free add-on to WordPress, though to get the full use out of it, you’ll probably need to purchase a few premium plugins.

WordPress can also be used to create social network sites, online schools, scheduling systems, and much more.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

WordPress is SEO friendly, but you still need to work for it

WordPress has been built and structured with search engines in-mind. The way the pages, links, images, etc. are laid out is based around how search engines crawl websites. That said, there’s a big difference between being SEO friendly and actually being search engine optimized.

In fact, we wrote a whole post about it. Learn more here.

Now, it’s time for some “buts”.

WordPress is secure, but the attacks are more frequent

The WordPress team is always hard at work with new updates, patches, and security adjustments. And for good reason. Because of WordPress’s prevalence and open source nature, the platform is always under attack.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

It’s the same reason why there’s more malicious content out there for Windows and Android devices. Because that’s what the majority of people in the world use.

That doesn’t mean WordPress is insecure. Far from it. As long as you stay on top of updates, take proper security precautions and stay away from bad plugins, you should be just fine.

WordPress is super user friendly, but you may need a developer

When it comes to adding and editing pages, writing blog posts, or adjusting things like the menu, WordPress is about as easy as it gets. Depending on what themes and plugins you’re using, doing more advanced changes may be possible too.

But for the average website owner, you’ll want someone around who can get technical. Especially if you want a customized site. Even if you’re using a templated site, tech support can be a huge asset.

Lucky for you, we provide for all of your WordPress needs including design, development, hosting, maintenance, support, and more.

Our pricing plans start as low as $99 a month. Visit our contact page for more information.

Have a question about WordPress? Maybe a thought you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below.

Categories
blogging Services Tech and Software

Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

In case you didn’t already know, WordPress is a pretty big deal.

Nearly 80 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress. That’s basically the population of Germany, just for reference.

As a CMS (content management system), WordPress has 59% of the market share. There are also over 44,000 plugins available for WordPress that have been downloaded over a billion times.

So if we say that WordPress is a big deal, you will agree.

But like anything remotely popular, WordPress is often misunderstood. There are false myths and dated rumors we see constantly passed around. Because of our fierce love for WordPress, we wanted to take a moment to set the record straight.

Here is what you need to know about WordPress. The truths, the lies, and everything in between.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same, but they are similar

Let’s start with the most confusing. So WordPress itself is a free, open source content management system. Essentially, it’s software that allows people to create, organize, and update websites without having to manually code every page.

Now, WordPress essentially comes in two forms.

First, there is WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a blog hosting service not entirely different from Blogger. It allows a person to setup a free website that operates on a custom version of the WordPress software. This version is limited in what themes and plugins it can use.

A WordPress.com website also cannot be transferred to another host. It’s a bit of an out of the box, package deal.

WordPress.org, on the other hand, is the home of the full, open source WordPress software. If a company is building you a WordPress website, this is what they’re using. This what the site you’re on right now is using.

With the WordPress.org software, you can do just about anything.

Confused? Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

From now on, we’ll mostly be talking about the full WordPress platform (.org).

WordPress is for a lot more than blogging

Thankfully this doesn’t happen as much as it did a few years ago, but for the longest time, when we told a client we build WordPress websites, their response would be something like “but I don’t want a blog. I want a website.”

As with the .com vs .org situation, there’s good reason for confusion.

WordPress has its roots in blogging. When it was first built, WordPress was mostly for blogging (WordPress.com is still primarily for blogging). And some of the biggest WordPress websites are primarily blogs.

But WordPress today is so much more than a blogging platform. Sure, it has a beautiful and easy to use blogging system built into it still, but there are hundreds of thousands of WordPress sites that don’t even utilize their blogging functionality.

Simply put, WordPress is an all-in-one website platform. It can do everything.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

Which brings us to the next point…

WordPress is usable for websites of all sizes and functions

There are WordPress sites of all shapes and sizes. Some may think that WordPress is only suited for smaller websites with a handful of pages and a blog. This is simply not true.

Sure, we’ve built WordPress sites as small as one page. But we’ve also built WordPress sites with hundreds of pages, posts, and products.

That’s right, products.

If you’re looking to do some e-commerce, WordPress offers a powerful solution with Woocommerce. Woocommerce is technically a free add-on to WordPress, though to get the full use out of it, you’ll probably need to purchase a few premium plugins.

WordPress can also be used to create social network sites, online schools, scheduling systems, and much more.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

WordPress is SEO friendly, but you still need to work for it

WordPress has been built and structured with search engines in-mind. The way the pages, links, images, etc. are laid out is based around how search engines crawl websites. That said, there’s a big difference between being SEO friendly and actually being search engine optimized.

In fact, we wrote a whole post about it. Learn more here.

Now, it’s time for some “buts”.

WordPress is secure, but the attacks are more frequent

The WordPress team is always hard at work with new updates, patches, and security adjustments. And for good reason. Because of WordPress’s prevalence and open source nature, the platform is always under attack.

 million websites and blogs utilize some form of WordPress Everything You Need to Know About WordPress – Truths vs Misconceptions

It’s the same reason why there’s more malicious content out there for Windows and Android devices. Because that’s what the majority of people in the world use.

That doesn’t mean WordPress is insecure. Far from it. As long as you stay on top of updates, take proper security precautions and stay away from bad plugins, you should be just fine.

WordPress is super user friendly, but you may need a developer

When it comes to adding and editing pages, writing blog posts, or adjusting things like the menu, WordPress is about as easy as it gets. Depending on what themes and plugins you’re using, doing more advanced changes may be possible too.

But for the average website owner, you’ll want someone around who can get technical. Especially if you want a customized site. Even if you’re using a templated site, tech support can be a huge asset.

Lucky for you, we provide for all of your WordPress needs including design, development, hosting, maintenance, support, and more.

Our pricing plans start as low as $99 a month. Visit our contact page for more information.

Have a question about WordPress? Maybe a thought you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below.

Categories
Marketing Services

How Much Should a Website Cost?

s an interesting thing when you start talking website costs with businesses How Much Should a Website Cost?

It’s an interesting thing when you start talking website costs with businesses. We’ve met with people who have pretty terrible websites that they paid a lot of money for. As if they paid for a brand new Audi A3 and ended up with a mid-90’s Geo Metro.

s an interesting thing when you start talking website costs with businesses How Much Should a Website Cost?

1900 pounds of “nope”

On the other hand, we’ve had meetings with potential clients who want the digital equivalent of a NASA space shuttle, and then scoff at the idea that their dream website is going to cost them more than $1000.

The truth is giving a ballpark price of how much websites should cost is near impossible.

If you walked up to a contractor and asked how much it would cost for them to build you a house, they would not immediately turn to you and say “Oh, a house? That’ll be a flat fee of $100,000.”

They couldn’t possibly give you an accurate quote without asking additional questions.

Where will it be built? How many square feet? What materials should be used? How many bathrooms? How many bedrooms? How many garage stalls? How many horse stalls?

You know, if you’re the equestrian type.

s an interesting thing when you start talking website costs with businesses How Much Should a Website Cost?

I’m not big on Fords, but Mustangs are alright…

It’s really no different for a website. Especially for businesses. A fully-featured e-commerce site that sells auto-parts internationally is going to be drastically different from a website for a local diner.

Your goals are different. Your needs are different. Your customers are different. And so, the price will be different.

For a custom website, it’s a question of hours

What you’re paying for with a customized website is largely the number of hours it takes to design, develop, populate, etc. There may be the need to buy plugins or extensions. You also need to factor in hosting and domain registration.

But the majority of cost is based on labor and hourly rate.

In theory, if you’re paying a higher hourly rate for your website, you should expect a better website. That doesn’t always turn out to be the case though.

Regardless, a fully featured customized website can be “expensive” in the generic sense. But when weighed against how valuable it can be for modern businesses, it can more than pay for itself.

Cookie-cutter, pre-built, and template websites

If you’re looking to get the most affordable website possible for a flat-ish fee, there are templates and pre-built websites out there you can purchase. Even these have a broad range in pricing.

A template can go from free to $100+. The pricier ones will generally offer more features, customization options, etc.

Even still, you’ll need to buy a domain and host it. Also, if you’re not particularly web savvy, you’ll still need to bring on some professional assistance.

But what if you could know exactly what your website will cost from the start?

Okay, so remember how we said ballpark pricing on a website is darn-near impossible? Well, we weren’t being entirely truthful….

While, we can’t exactly tell you how much a website should cost, we can tell you exactly how much a website from us will cost you.

And that’s including hosting, domain, maintenance, and more!

To make things simple for small businesses, we put together a range of website packages that offer a variety of different features depending on your needs. These packages all have preset prices so you know exactly what you’ll get and what it will cost you.

Oh, and they start as low as $99.

Visit our sister-site Launch Runner to get started!

Categories
blogging Marketing Services

Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

Starting a blog has never been difficult Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

Starting a blog has never been difficult.

From the beginning, blogs have been designed so that someone with limited computer ability could start writing and sharing on the internet. Sure, they weren’t the prettiest, and not many people paid attention to them, but that’s all changed.

Starting a blog has never been difficult Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

(artist rendering of a first generation blog)

Blogs are hugely popular (and much better looking). Everyone is reading blog posts all the time, whether it’s for info or inspiration or entertainment. A well-crafted blog or even just the right post can bring in loads of traffic to your website.

But for the majority of bloggers, that’s not the case.

When you check your analytics and see that no one is reading your blog, it can feel like you threw a party, and nobody showed up.

Starting a blog has never been difficult Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

You get insecure. Start having high school flashbacks. And you ask yourself:

What am I doing wrong?

Here’s some potential answers…

You don’t post enough

You know those carnival games where you get a few balls to throw at a stack of bottles?  The more balls you have to throw, the more likely you are to knock down the stack. It’s a game of odds and numbers almost as much as it is skill.

And blogging isn’t so different. The more regular posts you get out there, the more likely your blog will draw people to your website. Some posts will ultimately connect better than others.

There will be posts that are duds. But there will also be posts that track really well. From there, you can study what’s working and what’s not, revise, and continue.

Your blog doesn’t stand out (or it’s just not good)

Chances are, a lot of people have written about what you’re writing about. You need to stand apart, and the best way to do that is to inject whatever it is that makes you you. A blog post should (usually) have some personality.

Starting a blog has never been difficult Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

And if you’re bad at writing, get someone to help you. You could be a genius in your field/niche/genre, but no one wants to read bad writing. Unless it’s one of those popular romance novels.

For some simple blog writing tips, check out this post.

It’s not optimized for search engines

This isn’t just for business blogs. Even personal blogs can benefit from a little SEO. You should write on the types of subjects and questions people are searching for. Posts should be longer than 300 words. You should have keywords that you’re targeting.

All of this can bring you that natural, organic search engine traffic.

Your website isn’t being crawled by search engines at all

This is more of a technical issue. For more information, check our post here.

You’re too focused on numbers

Who wouldn’t like to see hundreds of thousands of people coming to their blog every day? Most of us would settle for just hundreds, period. But for those who work in glass manufacturing or enjoy writing about a species of bird found on the island of Socotra, there’s only so much traffic you’ll be able to bring to your blog posts.

When considering traffic and success, you need to measure it by the size of the audience that’s out there.

If you’re B2B, it’s going to be smaller still. The thing is, for business blogs especially, it’s not all about the number of people who find your blog. It’s about the quality of the lead. Traffic is never a bad thing, but you need to ask yourself, what’s the purpose of your blog?

The blog doesn’t have a purpose

A blog can be anything you want it to be, but you need a vision of what that something is actually going to be. For some, it’s a creative outlet. For others, it’s a news source. It can be both and more, but there should be some focus, and that should be based on what kind of audience you’re trying to attract.

How do you know if your blog lacks purpose/focus? If you have more than 8 categories, it’s certainly possible. If you look at the last three posts, and they all seem like they could be on three entirely separate blogs, that could also be a sign.

You don’t have the time/energy/skill needed to take care of it

For small businesses, they know they should be blogging, but they can never seem to find the time. Or they try, and the results are disastrous…

Starting a blog has never been difficult Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

Seriously, how does this even happen?

The good news is you don’t have to do it all yourself. At Radiate, we provide professional blogging services for virtually any industry (as long as its legal, of course). We work with clients to establish who they want to target and what they want to be about.

From there, we actually create the topics and write the posts. Of course, if you’d like to be a part of the process, we can meet you half way.

Contact us today for more information.

Starting a blog has never been difficult Why Doesn’t My Blog Get Traffic?

This could be us

Have you had troubles driving traffic to your blog? Share below!

 

Categories
Design Services

Why Doesn’t My Website Look Like the Theme I Bought?

Since launching in 2010, Pinterest has rapidly grown to become the go-to source for all Do-It-Yourself projects.

Baking. Crafting. Woodwork. Exercise programs. Hairstyles. Clothing modification. Body modification.  Troll doll modification.

Pinterest has become a never-ending source of things to make.  Pinterest’s CEO refers to it as a “catalog of ideas”.  And while ideas are great, executing those ideas isn’t always as simple as you might think.

Many who have tried their hand at a Pinterest project that sounded incredibly simple have ended up with an unrecognizable end product.

 Pinterest has rapidly grown to become the go Why Doesn’t My Website Look Like the Theme I Bought?

There are entire websites devoted to Pinterest fails, and for good reason.  Things that sound super simple and easy to do often are not.  This doesn’t just apply to Pinterest.  Small business owners often run into the very same issue when they try to build their own website.

Even if they’re using a pre-made template.

But it’s a pre-made.  What can go wrong?

Templates are super popular, especially on WordPress.  With marketplaces focused solely on selling templates and designers constantly churning new ones out, there’s no shortage of templates for you to buy out there.

There are even quite a few free ones.

So let’s say you go to the template store.  You buy a template that looks perfect.  You follow some instructions about installing a template on a WordPress site.  You turn on the template.  And you end up with something like this….

 Pinterest has rapidly grown to become the go Why Doesn’t My Website Look Like the Theme I Bought?

What went wrong?  Where are all of those cool things and pretty pictures on the demo site that you saw?

The thing about many (if not most) templates is that they don’t exactly come pre-assembled.  That demo you saw isn’t just the design files that you downloaded.  It’s the fully assembled, finished product.

It is the model.

You bought the Legos.

 Pinterest has rapidly grown to become the go Why Doesn’t My Website Look Like the Theme I Bought?

Step carefully, folks.

Some Assembly Required

While themes and templates remove most of the coding aspects of the website building process, there is still work to be done in getting them setup.  Documentation has to be read, instructions have to be followed, and even then, it’s easy to miss something.

To make things more difficult, themes from different companies can be very different in the way they’re settings are configured.  That’s not to say it’s impossible, and it’s certainly a lot easier than attempting to build one from scratch.

For someone with a bit of website know-how, building a templated website just takes some time and effort.  But for someone who’s not web-savvy, they can quickly become frustrating.

 Pinterest has rapidly grown to become the go Why Doesn’t My Website Look Like the Theme I Bought?

But Custom Websites Take Too Long/Are Too Expensive

Pre-made themes and templates certainly have their advantages.  They’re fast and affordable.  They’re supposed to be a super easy solution to getting you a nice looking website.  But when you hit wall after wall just trying to set the thing up, it defeats the entire purpose.

A theme or template should require little to no work on your end.

What if You Could Have it All Done for You?

Imagine a scenario where you pick a theme, choose some customized options, and have a fully functioning website handed to you in a short window of time for a very affordable price.  Sound too good to be true?

It’s not.

Here at Radiate, we have officially rolled out our own in-house themes.  These themes can have colors, fonts, and pictures customized to match your brand, leaving you with a templated website that still represents your brand.

And we put it together for you to ensure that the finished product looks like the template you chose.

Did we mention it comes with our top-rated hosting, maintenance, and support?  That way, when troubles arise, plugins update, or WordPress changes, you’ll be taken care of.

Soon, we’ll have a gallery available for you to browse the templates we offer.  In the meantime, you can click here to contact us directly and see what we have to offer.

What has your experience been dealing with themes and templates?

Categories
Services Tech and Software

What Exactly is Website Hosting and How Does it Work?

For most of us, the internet is one of those things that we use but don’t really understand how it works.

It’s like gravity or health insurance.

Even if someone has a website, we’ve found they often don’t understand the different parts required in making said website appear on monitors and smartphones across the world.  Personally, we think if you’re going to have a website, especially if it’s for your business, you should have some concept of how it manages to exist.

So today, we’re going to dive into a specific piece of the internet puzzle:

Web hosting.

But it’s in, like, the clouds, right?

 the internet is one of those things that we use but don What Exactly is Website Hosting and How Does it Work?Despite what marketing teams and software companies try to tell you, the internet is not in the clouds.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Much of the internet is buried underground, spread throughout cable and wire and data centers.

Even across oceans.

The internet is not magically beaming from the UK over to the US.  It’s not transmitted by satellite here or there either.  There are hard-lines running across the ocean floors around the whole globe.

 the internet is one of those things that we use but don What Exactly is Website Hosting and How Does it Work?

You may be reading this on a device connected via Wi-Fi, but that Wi-Fi signal is ultimately coming from a router that’s hardwired into the internet.

So where is my website then?

Websites are hosted on a server.  Technically speaking, a server is just a computer connected to the internet.  You could host a website from your own computer, if you really wanted to.

However, the majority of websites are hosted on specialized servers.  Without getting too technical, these servers are typically connected more directly through the internet, they have backup systems in place in case part of it shuts down, they’re designed to handle large amounts of traffic, and they’re configured to block attacks, information leaks, etc.

Not to say things can’t still go wrong with servers and websites…. (learn more about that here), but they typically work much better than a personal computer sitting in your house.

Does my website have to hosted?

Yes.  Everything has to be somewhere.  Things don’t just float around on the internet.  All of the stuff that you’re seeing and using and reading and watching on the internet is coming from a physical location somewhere in the world.

What kind of hosting do I need?

This depends largely on what type of website you have, how big it is, what your needs are, and more.  If you’re using a web platform like Shopify or Squarespace, then your website is automatically hosted with that company.

On the other hand, sites built on WordPress or Magento are self-hosted, meaning you need to find server space to put them on.  Think of it as renting a piece of property on the internet.

The prices and capabilities of servers and host providers can vary dramatically.  As we mentioned before, it depends on what you need.  It’s worth noting you may see webhosting packages that are really cheap, but you should know these are generally very limited.

For example, cheaper hosting packages often limit the number of people who can view your website.  So let’s say your limit is 25 devices that can simultaneously be viewing your website.  If a 26th person comes along and tries to go to it, the site won’t load for them.  If a lot of people try to go to your website all at once, the site as a whole could crash.

In other words, when it comes to hosting, you often get what you pay for.

This is complicated and confusing.

 the internet is one of those things that we use but don What Exactly is Website Hosting and How Does it Work?

It definitely can be overwhelming to try and figure out, especially when you just want to put a website out onto the internet and not have to worry about it.  That’s why we bundle hosting in with our websites that we build.

All of our websites are built using WordPress (the most popular website platform there is) and hosted on servers specifically designed for WordPress websites.  If your website experiences issues, we offer support.  If your website goes down, we go the extra mile to get it back up and running.

In other words, we take care of the whole hosting situation so our clients can just worry about running their businesses.

We should mention quick that there’s also domain hosting and email hosting.

While we’re on the subject, we feel we should mention the fact that domain hosting and email hosting are not the same as website hosting.  Your domain (that’s www.yourwebsite.com) is actually a separate entity from your actual website, and thus, also needs to be hosted somewhere.  You can learn more about domains by clicking here.

Email hosting is something that some webhosts do bundle in with their website hosting.  However, we’ve found that the safest and most reliable solution is to use an external email provider like Google’s Business Apps or Microsoft’s Outlook servers.

And that’s pretty much it.

If you have any questions or thoughts about website hosting, we’d love to hear them.  Just share in the comments below.  It’s super easy.  And if you’d like to get a fast, affordable website that comes with hosting included, visit our contact page here.

Cheers.

Categories
Design Services

Does My Website Look Good?

A lot of people like to shop for clothes in groups.  It’s not that clothes-shopping is a two-person job.  It’s that they want a second opinion.  They go into the fitting room, put on the items they grabbed, walk out, and ask:

Does this look good?

A lot of people like to shop for clothes in groups Does My Website Look Good?

Photo credit: Mark Roberts

Either that or they ask “does this make me look fat?”, in which case, the answer is always no.

But the point is, second opinions are often important.  When it comes to examining our own things, whether it’s what you’re wearing or something you’ve written or how you’re going to handle a confrontation, we can’t really view it from an impartial, external perspective.

And the same is true for your website.

In the eyes of your customer, how your website looks says a lot about your business.  If it’s broken and dated and difficult to use, they will apply those same traits to your company.  And while you might think your website is perfectly fine, you’re not the person your website is trying to reach.

Which means you need to find someone and ask them “does my website look good?”

But not just anyone.  You wouldn’t ask someone who dresses poorly what they think of your shirt, and therefore, you shouldn’t ask someone who barely knows how to Google something whether or not your website is good.

You should ask professionals. Like us.

Does Your Website Look Good?

It’s hard for us to give a full opinion without directly looking at it, but we’ve put together a checklist that can apply to most websites that should give a general idea of the condition of your current site.

Is it broken?

We’ll start with the most important item.  Because it doesn’t matter if your website is professionally designed or not, if it’s broken, it’s ugly by default.

A broken website can be many things, and none of these things are good.  Are there pictures missing?  Does text go outside of boxes and content areas?  Do links and buttons not work?

First and foremost, you should make sure your website works on a basic level.

Is it cohesive?

The next item is a little broad, but important: cohesion.  Ultimately, it’s a question of branding.  Are consistent colors used throughout your website?  Do the fonts match up?  Does your logo match the style of the website?

When you take a bird’s eye view of your site design, does it look like it was made intentionally?  Or does it look like a construction paper collage assembled by a first grader?

Is it legible?

Sometimes, people get carried away with fonts.  This was a particularly big issue in late 90’s websites where multicolored text on dark backgrounds and strange, illegible cursive fonts reigned supreme.  And while the internet has grown up since then, we still run into websites where it’s a struggle to read what’s actually on the site.

So ask yourself, truthfully, can you easily read the content on your site?

Is it responsive?

A responsive website is one that adapts to the size of the screen it’s being viewed on, such as a smartphone or tablet.  Your website might look okay on a desktop computer or even a laptop, but how does it look on a mobile device?

Can you still read the text?  Are the buttons and tabs and menu items easy to press with your finger?

Does it have pictures?  Are they good ones?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there’s a lot of negative things to be said about a website that has bad photography.  Pictures on websites are very important, and most are starting to understand this.  After all, the internet has become the photo album of our lives.

But when it comes to your website, not just any picture will do.

We recommend your website has large, in focus, unique photos that represent you.  We live in an age where professional grade cameras (and even photography services) are incredibly affordable.  Honestly, top-level smartphones can take some pretty great pictures.

If you simply don’t have much to be photographed, there are amazing stock-images out there too.

Simply put, there’s no excuse to have no pictures, tiny pictures, blurry pictures, or generic stock photos filled with people awkwardly smiling and high-fiving.

A lot of people like to shop for clothes in groups Does My Website Look Good?

Seriously, why do photos like this exist?

Does the Navigation and Flow of Information Make Sense?

Let’s pretend you’re coming to your website for the first time.  You don’t know where anything is, and you’re looking a specific piece of information.  Maybe it’s the hours of operation or a specific list of services.  Starting at the homepage, would you be able to find that info?  How many clicks would it take to get you there?

Even if your website “looks good”, if it’s a struggle to find basic/important info on your site, your site is not good.

How Old is Your Website?

Much like fashion, good website design changes over time.  What looked great in 2005 looks dated and tacky now.  Truthfully, if your website is older than 5 years, it could probably use a facelift.  Even if it’s 3 or 4 years old, there’s a chance it’s out of style.

So, How are We Looking?

Do you think your website might be lacking in the looks department?  The good news is, we can fix that.  Head over to our contact page and send us some more info.  We can make sure your business gets back in style.

What do you think makes a website look out of style?  

Categories
Design Services

Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

Website design has increasingly become a DIY project in recent years.   People see a pre-built theme, and say to themselves well, that looks easy.

But if Pinterest has taught us anything, it’s that “easy, step-by-step instructions” can be deceiving.

Website design has increasingly become a DIY project in recent years Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

A do-it-yourself website can quickly escalate into a lot more work than it appeared to be.  And then after you put in your sweat and tears, you end up with a generic, broken, and/or ugly website.

Website design has increasingly become a DIY project in recent years Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

Not how you should react after seeing your site

So, finally, you decide to bring a web designer into the mix.  Because even with the wealth of website building tools out there, a great custom design will always look best.  Not to mention it will better represent what it is that makes you you.

But before you run off and hire the first name you see pop-up in Google, there’s a few things you should know before you hire a designer.

1. Have They Designed a Website Before?

Maybe this one should be a given.  Or maybe you think that if they can design cool graphics or logos, that creating a website is basically the same thing.  That’s like saying to a refrigerator repair man “hey, you fix fridges?  Can you take a look at my washing machine?”

There’s similarities shared, but the details can be quite different.  Not to mention website design files should be laid out in a specific way for the coding and integration process.

Which brings us to the next point….

2. Do You Have a Developer Who’s Going to Code it?

A website design is a pretty Photoshop file made up of colors and images and layers placed over one another.  An actual website, on the other hand, is made up of hundreds/thousands of lines of code working together to display your pretty design in real time across the internet.

Website design has increasingly become a DIY project in recent years Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

Taking your site from design to functioning status requires a developer.  It’s possible that your designer does coding as well and can do the integration.  Otherwise, you’re going to need to hire someone.

Don’t hire just anyone, though.  It would be a shame to take a great looking website design and have it turned into a glitchy, malfunctioning disasterpiece thanks to a mediocre developer.

3. Do You Need a Logo?

Speaking from pretty extensive experience, let us tell you that an ugly/outdated logo will kill the greatest of website designs.  The logo is the foundation of the websites design.  Build a house on a weak foundation, and you’ll end up with a crumpled mess.

Website design has increasingly become a DIY project in recent years Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

If you don’t have a logo, get one designed.  If your logo is not good looking (and you might have to ask for some external feedback on this one), get it redesigned.

4. Do You Have a Vision for Your Site?

Imagine going into a random restaurant and being like “alright, I’ll have something that’s not poisonous and make sure it tastes good.  I’m not really a food person, so I don’t know.  Just make me something.”

For people who will eat anything, that might work, but for many of us, we could very well end up with something we find to be disgusting.  And that’s what will happen when you give vague, unhelpful design requests.

Website design has increasingly become a DIY project in recent years Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

Much like a good chef, a designer is going to add their own flavor into the mix.  They’re going to use their recipe.  But they work best when they know what you’re in the mood for.  Obviously you’re not a designer, but you probably know what you like.  Or at least, what you do not like.  Sometimes, knowing that can be just as useful.

And just like with food, the pickier you are, the more specific you need to be up front.

Are You Ready to Hire a Web Designer?

If so, we’d love to talk.  We have an experienced design team that can do just about any style (not to mention logos).  And we have developers, meaning we’re able to provide both custom web design and development.  That takes care of the first three questions right there.

Contact us today, and we can get the process started.

Any other questions you think should be added?  Let us know below.

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital Services Tech and Software

Building an Event-Based Website Using BuddyPress and Events Manager Pro

BuddyPress is a very popular WordPress extension that allows you to turn any WordPress sit Building an Event-Based Website Using BuddyPress and Events Manager Pro

BuddyPress is a very popular WordPress extension that allows you to turn any WordPress site into a social media platform.  With features such as profile creation, friending, internal messaging, wall posting, and more, BuddyPress comes pre-built with all sorts of user-capabilities.

However, in the 7 years that BuddyPress has been around, it’s been expanded and customized to accommodate a number of other uses such as internal networks, fan sites, dating sites, and more.  Basically, any place where you want to better connect people while giving them the ability to manage and update a profile, BuddyPress can be a great solution.

Including event-based websites.

Why Would You Want to Connect BuddyPress with an Events Website?

Any good events plugin for WordPress will allow for user-profile creation.  This will generally allow them to long in to check current or past registrations, cancel registrations, and if you want, create events of their own.

But adding BuddyPress gives users considerable more control over their accounts, providing a more attractive profile page that’s easy to access and update.  In addition, let’s say they make new friends on an event they attend.

They can then return to the site, friend these people using BuddyPress’s default features, and stay connected through there.  They can even see which future events the other is attending and register accordingly.

If you’re allowing users to create events on your site, they could use the social features as a coordinating/communication tool as well.

Truthfully, there’s a lot of ways you can harness the social power of BuddyPress to make a better events site.  Here’s what we did:

The Project

A client wanted us to build them an event-based website for a niche-market that added a degree of social-media like interaction.  While the primary purpose for creating a profile was to register for events, social functionality would become increasingly important as the business and the community within it grew.

We decided that BuddyPress would perfect for this.  Though it doesn’t have any event functionality built in, there are a number of popular event platforms with BuddyPress integration capabilities.

We went with Events Manger Pro because we had good experience with it in the past and they offer BuddyPress support.

The intial setup is relatively simple.  Install BuddyPress and Events Manager from the plugin area of your site.  To add the Pro features of Events Manager, you’ll need to purchase and download it from their website, and then upload the zip file onto your own site.

With these in place, we set up the registration page for BuddyPress.  Users visited that to create their account.  This would then send them an activation email.  Once they activated their account, they could login and start registering for events on the event page powered by Events Manager.

In our case, users had to create a profile before they could register for events.  However, if you wish, you can enable guest registration as well.

For the initial stage of the website, profiles were mostly used to track and store additional user information.  BuddyPress makes adding additional user field’s very simple, letting use customize profile layouts as we saw fit.

In our client’s case, profiles actually represented two people (specifically a couple) instead of one.  BuddyPress gave us the ability to add fields for both.

Another feature we were able to utilize was internal messaging.  Though we had this disabled for standard users, admins on the site could message either specific users or mass message everyone through the website.

Messages were stored both on the user’s profile and sent to them via their primary email address.

Future Planned Updates

There are a number of updates currently planned for the second phase of the website including:

  • Paid memberships/membership tiers (using an additional plugin)
  • Friending capabilities and internal message for paid accounts
  • Special event prices for paid accounts
  • And more

Trouble We Encountered

While the combination of these two WordPress add-ons allowed us to implement a number of features, some of the above functionality had to be modified and tweaked within the actual code.

Also, though Events Manager is setup to work with BuddyPress, the integration isn’t quite as seamless as we would have liked.  For example, Events Manager allows you the option of exporting attendance rosters for events.  However, these exported lists don’t pull the extra profile data found in the BuddyPress profiles.

This was especially troublesome in our case since that extra data contained the info of the second person in the couple.

Also, if you’re looking at someone else’s profile, trying to see what events they’re attending, the default layout/organizing is a little confusing at first.

Lastly, we’ve had a slight issue with some users not receiving their activation email.

Ultimately, We Recommend BuddyPress and Events Manager Pro

Are they perfect?  No.  Do they have some limitations?  Yes.  Will you need a design and/or developer to help with some styling, coding, and site navigation?  Definitely.

But using these two plugins allowed us to provide a website that does quite a bit for a really affordable price.

Categories
Services

Why is SEO So Expensive?

“I completely understand the importance of SEO,” you say to the person across the reclaimed-wooden table.

It’s 2pm in the afternoon, and you’re sitting at a local coffee shop, talking to a casually dressed person.  Internet marketer, that’s what they say they are.  You’ve been corresponding a few weeks via email, expressing your curiosity in their “SEO services”.

Despite building a new website months prior, you’ve discovered no one is really coming to it.  This marketer says they can change that.  They certainly sound like they know what they’re saying, mentioning things like quality content¸ improved rankings, keyword targeting, and a number of other words you didn’t really understand, but nodded your head yes to anyway.

“Alright,” they said, “Here’s a plan we’ve put together for you.”

They slide one of those fancy tablets across the flat finished wood grains.  On it is a list of services they’ll provide.  Your eyes scan optimistically as you think of all the wonderful, paying customers that are about to find your site.

Then you reach the price at the bottom….and EVERYTHING changes.

“Wait,” you stutter, “This is per month?”

“Yeah,” the smug, scheming marketer says.

All your happiness drains from your body, absorbed by the devilish computer device in your finger tips.   In your newfound hollowness, one thought remains on your mind:

WHY IS SEO SO EXPENSIVE?

I completely understand the importance of SEO Why is SEO So Expensive?

Expensive is a relative term, but that doesn’t stop people from throwing it around regularly.  Even a cheap car is expensive compared to, say, a can of soda.  But that car is also going to do a lot more than just add some softness around your waistline.

In the same way, SEO and internet marketing services might seem like they carry a high dollar amount, but that’s because they’ll do a lot for you.

And also, doing proper SEO isn’t easy.  It takes hours of professional work, and as we all know, professional time is not free.

But SEO Used to Be Cheap

People who have been in the internet game for a while might remember a time where they could get their rankings improved in search engines for a relatively small investment.  There’s a few reasons for that….

The rules were being broken

If you were receiving SEO for prices too low to be true, there was probably a reason for that.  There was a time when it was fairly easy to cheat search engines, employing shady-black hat techniques that would trick search engines into ranking you higher.

Due to a list of changes over the past few years in how search engines operate, these techniques don’t work anymore, and most the sites still using them have been penalized and/or removed from search engines altogether.

So many people who tried to take the cheap and easy route are now paying for it.

SEO used to be easier…a little, at least

Good SEO work has always come with a price-tag.  To create proper content and find respectable places to link to your website from takes some serious effort.  But it was once simpler and results came faster.

Now though, it takes more effort and more time.

Not to mention the fact that there are probably more of your competitors applying SEO strategies than there ever has been before.  Oh, and results can take awhile to start appearing.

Like up to a year.

So is it worth it?

Is SEO [and Inbound Marketing] Worth the Price Tag?

Do you want to rank high in search engines?  Do you want your website to pull in continuous, fresh traffic?  Do you want your website to have relevant, well-written content?

Is the point of your website to better grow and establish your website?

Then yes, SEO and Inbound Marketing are worth the price.  We’ve seen time and again, website traffic increase over 100% in the first year of SEO services as fresh leads come in to our clients.

Comparatively, we’ve seen the same clients spend more money on print ads, adwords, and phone/directory listings, and receive inferior results.

Taking all that into account, is SEO really that expensive?  Personally, we don’t like to see it as an expense as much as an investment.  And when it comes to investments, what you get out depends heavily on what you put in in the first place.

What experience do you have with SEO?