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
Tech and Software

Website Video Hosting Options: What’s Best for Me?

If a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is just thousands of pictures shown in  Website Video Hosting Options: What’s Best for Me?

If a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is just thousands of pictures shown in rapid succession, then that means there’s a lot to be said about a well done video.

Video is a great way to add a personal message, demonstration, explanation, etc. to your website.  With the speed of modern internet, the affordability of digital storage, and ease of access to quality recording equipment, having video has never been easier.

But to show video on the internet, it has to be hosted somewhere.  Videos can theoretically be stored directly on your website, but they usually eat up a lot of server space and can affect loading times.  We’ve found that for longer videos, high quality videos, and large quantities of videos, the best solution is an external video host.

I have no idea what you just said….

As the name implies, an external video host is a place outside of your website where you place your videos.  YouTube is the most popular.  You place a video on there, and you can then send people directly to the video on YouTube, or you can embed that video onto your website so that people can view it there.

For example, this is an embedded YouTube video:

It’s viewable here but hosted elsewhere.  As we said, this is how most videos are done on websites.  So, let’s say you want some videos on your website, and you need to host them somewhere.

What are your options?

YouTube aka Mr. Popularity

If a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is just thousands of pictures shown in  Website Video Hosting Options: What’s Best for Me?

When YouTube launched in 2005, it took the internet by storm.  Never had it been easier for people to upload and share videos with the entire world.  Sure, video hosting was available elsewhere, but it was either slow, buggy, expensive, restrictive, or unembeddable.

YouTube did it better and made it easier, and for the most part, that’s still true today.  A person can very quickly create a Google account (if you don’t already have one), setup their YouTube page, and start uploading videos in minutes.

Pros:

  • Ease of use
  • Free
  • Powered by Google which means search engine friendly
  • Millions of people are searching YouTube for random videos every day
  • Can incorporate ads for additional revenue possibilities

Cons:

  • Less customization available
  • Competitors ads and videos could be shown near yours (depending on your setup)
  • Some businesses block YouTube videos
  • Lack of support (because getting in touch with Google isn’t easy)

Vimeo aka The Artist

If a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is just thousands of pictures shown in  Website Video Hosting Options: What’s Best for Me?

Though not quite as well known as YouTube, Vimeo has remained constant and popular in its own right.  Interestingly, Vimeo has actually been around longer than YouTube.  It was also the first video platform to offer HD streaming, though most every major one now does.

In its time, Vimeo has collected higher quality video makers, niche markets, and those generally more interested in something with a little visual flair.

Pros

  • Password protection available for videos
  • Quality over quantity
  • Great customization offered
  • Better analytics provided

Cons

  • Smaller audience
  • No free accounts for business
  • YouTube videos generally rank better in Google
  • Storage restrictions based on plan

Wistia AKA The Dark Horse

If a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is just thousands of pictures shown in  Website Video Hosting Options: What’s Best for Me?

Wistia is a little different from the previous candidates.  There’s a fair chance you’ve never even heard of it.  But if you’re mission is to put the best videos on your website in a seamless fashion, Wistia is the platform for you.

We should mention, Wistia is not a one stop, video-viewing spot.  People don’t go to Wistia.com and search for cool videos.  These videos are meant to be shared directly or embedded cleanly.  Unlike Vimeo, Wistia does technically have a free version that allows for 5 videos…but it comes with some minor Wistia branding.

Pros

  • Advanced styling and customization of player and controls
  • Advanced analytics and tracking
  • Lead generation tools built into player
  • Timed actions
  • Embedded social sharing

Cons

  • Most Expensive
  • Isn’t going to be found outside of your website

You Can Always Mix It Up

Let’s say you want clean, action-driven videos with superior analytics, AND you want to get in front of the video-searching YouTube masses.  There’s no reason why you can’t do both.  Unlike duplicate written content, duplicate videos on internet don’t negatively affect your website rankings.

You can easily create a Wistia or Vimeo pro account to store all of the videos for your website, and then upload all those same videos onto YouTube for no extra charge.

For many, if not most, cases, we’d say that’s actually your best solution.

Of course, you’ll want a beautiful, mobile friendly website to embed them on.  If you’re in need of such a thing, we’re here to help.  We also offer video-hosting management to our clients.  For $10 a month, we’ll host and manage up 10 videos for you.  That includes uploaded, embedding, branding, and more.

If you have more videos, it’s just another $10 for another 10 videos.

Contact us today and find out just how easy it is to have a great looking website to place videos on.

Have more video related questions?  Ask them below!

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
Tech and Software

Common Causes of Website Crashes

An extended website outage at the wrong time is no different than a business locking their Common Causes of Website Crashes

When your website goes down, it’s a big deal.  Your website is often your showcase, your sales floor, your point of contact, your resume, and so much more.

An extended website outage at the wrong time is no different than a business locking their doors during open hours.

That’s probably why one of our most popular blog posts has become our “Why websites crash and what to do about it” post.  It provides a general overview of the how, why, and what to do of website crashes.

Today, we’re going to dive a little deeper in the why.  There are a lot of reasons why your website experiences an outage, but here are some of the most common ones.

Most Common Causes of Website Outages and Crashes:

Plugin Error

Plugins (often used interchangeably with extensions) are additional pieces of code and software that, wait for it, plug in to your website, giving it additional functions or features.  This can range from a simple contact form to an event calendar to an entire social networking system.

As great as they are, however, because plugins are typically made by third-parties (and quite often, individuals sitting in some basement halfway across the word), they’re not always the most stably built.

An extended website outage at the wrong time is no different than a business locking their Common Causes of Website Crashes

Additionally, some plugins might have been great at one point but their creators abandoned them, leaving them to become outdated and buggy.  In the case of a WordPress website especially, it’s not uncommon to install and activate a plugin, online to have it cause or a crash.  Or you might update your WordPress install to a version your plugin is incompatible with, causing a crash.

Code Breaking/Errors

Similar to the plugin error, this one involves web code being broken.  However, it’s usually the fault of someone working directly on the website.  If you or your website providers were making an update to the website and it broke shortly after, this is most likely the cause.

An extended website outage at the wrong time is no different than a business locking their Common Causes of Website Crashes

Server/Hosting Provider Error

These are a very common, yet frustrating cause of website crashes because they’re generally out of your hands, both in terms of causing them and fixing them.  Your website is being hosted somewhere, and that host provider may be experiencing server troubles.  They might be running scheduled maintenance.  They might be experiencing severe weather that’s affecting their hosting facilities (it’s happened to us before).

The good news is they’ll get it fixed eventually.  The bad news is, you have to sit and wait while they do.

You Need More Hosting

There are different hosting plans based on the size of your website and how much traffic you get.  If you’re on a small, shared host plan and your website starts to grow, don’t be surprised if your website suddenly locks up.

Massive Traffic Spike

Traffic to your website is awesome, right?  Well, yes, but if the sudden influx of traffic is too large, it could crash your site.

An extended website outage at the wrong time is no different than a business locking their Common Causes of Website Crashes

Think of your website’s hosting environment as one of those old-fashioned rope bridges.  People come from the internet to your site and it carries them over no problem.  You’ve got a good, solid bridge that people can walk across, one or two at a time, see your site, and then head out.

Now take that bridge that’s built to handle a few people at a time and send a mob of 100 people sprinting across it and jumping up and down.  There’s a good chance that bridge is going to snap in half.

If you have a post that goes viral or you make the news and suddenly your website crashes, there’s a good chance it’s because of the traffic spike.

Brute Force Attacks

This is someone similar to the traffic spike except for two key differences:

  • The traffic you’re receiving are spam bots and virus software
  • They’re trying to break into the backend of your website

All across the internet, there are endless little bots crawling through different websites, trying to find vulnerable ones they can break into.  If there’s something about your website that attracts them, it’s like blood in the water and all the sharks come swimming.

Enough of these fake programs try to break into the admin area of your website, and the whole thing will come crashing down.   Even if they don’t actually break into the site!

An extended website outage at the wrong time is no different than a business locking their Common Causes of Website Crashes

Even if the attack misses, it can break your site.

Expired Domain

In case you didn’t know, your domain hosting is separate from your website hosting.  If the hosting for you domain expires (which happens quite often without people realizing it), your website will stop showing up.

Don’t let your domain expire.  This is something that should never happen.

What Do I Do About It?

For more information about that, check out our original post here.  And if you’re looking for better service and support in your website, contact us today.

What has caused your website to crash?  Any horror stories you’d like to share of your site going out?

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
Design Inside Radiate Digital Tech and Software

Customizing WordPress: Free Themes, Premium Themes, and Frameworks

At Radiate Digital, we use WordPress as the platform for over 90% of our websites.  WordPress is an incredibly popular and powerful platform that can do just about anything.

Yet it also manages to offer a relatively simple CMS for users to access and update content that appears on their website.

Though just about anyone can learn to create a page or add a blog post to a WordPress site, getting it to look and function how you want it to takes a little extra effort.  Default, WordPress looks a little…vanilla.

 we use WordPress as the platform for over  Customizing WordPress: Free Themes, Premium Themes, and Frameworks

Maybe you like vanilla.  That’s fine.  If we’re talking about scented candles, I’m a big fan of vanilla.  But when it comes to design, I like to think we can do a little better.

This is where the use of ‘themes’ comes into play.

Themes are what add the beautiful design to a WordPress site.  They can also add some additional functions such as shortcodes.  Technically, every WordPress site has a theme.  Even that picture above is a theme.

But not all themes are created equal.

 we use WordPress as the platform for over  Customizing WordPress: Free Themes, Premium Themes, and Frameworks

(it’s like a rejected scene from a Frozen ripoff)

The Freebies

There are a lot of free themes out there for WordPress.  You simple go to a themes website, download one, upload it onto your website, activate it, and there you go.  Your WordPress site now has a design.

However, free themes tend to come with a different kind of price.

Free themes typically offer very limited if any customization, meaning that any other site using that theme is going to look incredibly familiar.  They usually also feature the theme designer’s name at the bottom.

And frankly, a lot of free themes just don’t look that good.  Generally, these freebies are best left to a personal blogging site or that website you were forced to set up for your dad for free.

Premium Themes

As you might have guessed from the name, premium themes are ones that cost money.  The prices on these can range quite a bit depending on how robust they are.  They might offer an extensive amount of homepage options and arrangements or multiple looks for interior pages.

They might also involve things like Woocommerce for stores or some other sort of inventory system. Typically, they’ll provide you with some different color and font options, and let you tweak things so that the site looks a little more ‘you’.

That said, even premium templates often give off a certain “out of the box” feel.  Now depending on what you’re looking for, that might be fine.  It’s also important to remember that themes take support to make sure they stay up to date with the latest version of WordPress.  If the company that made the theme disappears or stops supporting it, you might run into some issues.

They can also sometimes have compatibility issues with different plugins.

Lastly, even though the tools and settings are all there for you, it can still be quite a bit of work for the average computer user to get a template setup correctly and looking like what it’s supposed to.  That’s why even people who use a theme often team with a professional WordPress user or developer to set up and manage their site for them.

WordPress Framework

Frameworks are where some people start to get a little confused.  A framework isn’t a theme, per-se.  It does go on top of the WordPress foundation like a theme does.  It’s installed in the same place as a theme is.  It often has settings very similar to what a theme has.

But it lacks an actual design.

Typically, a framework has something called a child-theme placed over top of it.  This uses the functions and capabilities of the framework, but puts a unique design to it.

Think of it like the human body a car.

WordPress is the engine.  The framework is the car frame and suspension.  The theme/design is the body and paint job.

Many (if not most) themes come with the framework and the design bundled together.

Here at Radiate, however, we don’t use pre-made themes.  We make custom WordPress designs so that our clients get exactly what they want out of their website.  But we do use our own Framework.

It’s Called the Radiate Framework

After designing and setting up quite a few WordPress sites, we decided to build our very own Framework.  Why?  Because we knew the kind of features and functionalities businesses wanted, and we wanted to be able to provide that on a stable platform for an affordable price.

Our framework provides the perfect groundwork for a fast and flexible website.  Behind the scenes, it comes preloaded with a number of useful features such as staff sections, portolio displays, a long list of useful shortcodes, custom headers on every page, and more.

Simply put, it comes with a lot of tools preloaded but can still be molded to meet the diverse needs of our clients.

What’s Best for Me?

Ultimately, it depends on what you want.  WordPress as a whole is a great website platform.  It’s our favorite platform.  If you’re creating a hobby blog for fun, a free theme will probably handle your needs.  If you want to take that a little more seriously, a premium theme is an easily affordable solution.

Just remember, with either of those options, you’ll still need hosting and a domain name.

That’s why we bundle all of that into our custom website designs.  If you want a website made your way with a stable framework, website updates, ongoing maintenance, hosting, and domain management, might we suggest having us craft something for you on our Radiate Framework?

You can checkout our Portfolio page for just a few examples of sites we’ve built on it.  Visit our sister-site LaunchRunner and you’ll find a few more.

Or if you’re really serious about it, visit our contact page.  We’d love to chat.

What is your experience with WordPress themes?  Do you have any questions?

Categories
Tech and Software

Browser Review: A Day in the Life with Microsoft Edge

Internet Explorer: Once the dominant internet browser, now a running joke.

Oh how the mighty can fall so very far.

 years is pretty much hated by the web world Browser Review: A Day in the Life with Microsoft Edge

In case you’re unaware, the browser that has come pre-loaded on Windows for over 15 years is pretty much hated by the web world.  From designers to developers to power users, Internet Explorer or IE serves as a constant headache.

(If you want to know more about that, check out this post)

Simply put, things that should work fine on a website like to not work on Internet Explorer.  Weird glitches show up.  Designs don’t properly render.  The list goes on.

While Microsoft has put for some serious effort in the past year or two to control the damage (see here and especially this one), it’s too little too late.  Even if IE worked perfectly (and it definitely does not), the name has been tarnished so much, there’s really no saving it.  So they did the only thing you can do in a situation like this:

Destroy and Rebuild

Over the past year, Microsoft has been beta testing a new browser originally titled Project Spartan (we’re pretty sure that’s yet another Halo reference).  With the release of Windows 10, that browser has been given a new name.  And that name is Edge.

 years is pretty much hated by the web world Browser Review: A Day in the Life with Microsoft Edge

Internet Explorer is dead and buried.  Long live Microsoft Edge.

What is Edge?

Not to be confused with a well-known, beanie wearing, and somewhat polarizing guitar player, Microsoft Edge is the new pre-loaded Windows browser.  The logo is quite similar to IE’s.

Everything else…well, it’s pleasantly different.

Unlike the continued versions of IE, Edge is a new platform rebuilt from the ground up.  The hope is that with the new name and the clean build, Microsoft can ditch both the shortcomings and the bad reputation of their old browser.

But does Edge deliver?  I decided to put it to a test.

 years is pretty much hated by the web world Browser Review: A Day in the Life with Microsoft Edge

(Bono’s favorite browser)

 

A Day on the Edge

Thanks to my lovely new HP Spectre x360 (which I strongly endorse) and a fresh copy of the all-new Windows 10, I was able to test drive Edge throughout a work day.  The goal: use Edge as my browser for all my work needs.

The good news?  The world did not end.  And I’m pretty sure it’s better than IE.  However, there’s still some wrinkles that need a little ironing.  But let’s start with the positives…

The Good:

From the first opening, Edge looks lovely.  A super clean interface that definitely seemed optimized for high resolutions (the framing and menus looked noticeably sharper than Chrome’s).  Edge provides simple options to change between a light or dark theme based on your preference.

Bookmarks and favorites can easily be copied over from your other browsers and you can choose whether or not a bookmark bar shows at the top.

Otherwise, the browser simply displays back, forward, refresh, your open tabs, and a few easy access tools to the far right.

One of those tools is the reading mode button.  What does it do?  Let’s say you’re on a blog post or article and you want to just read the post without the sidebar adds and links and everything else.  Simply click the button and all things disappear except the article and pictures.  It looks very similar to a Kindle book, and it is lovely.

You can even adjust the display settings for it similar to a Kindle, from font size to background color.

(a quick note: I realize Safari has this feature, and it can be added to other browsers as well, but Edge’s is the cleanest, most accessible version I’ve seen)

The two other buttons, which are useful in theory, are the Quick note button and the Share button.  The quick note allows you to screen draw, highlight, crop, and send notes for whatever you’re viewing in your browser.  Similarly, the share button let’s share the page as is.

It’s not as great as it sounds though.  But we’ll get to that in a second.

Using it throughout the day, the browser ran very fast and generally smooth.  However, I did run into a few random hitches and slowdowns.

Lastly, and I’m not sure how good of thing this is, but Edge allows you to access IE still.  Let’s say you need to check something in Internet Explorer or a page won’t work for you on Edge, simply go to the menu and click “open in Internet Explorer”.

It’s actually pretty great because A: they hide IE like they should, and B: if you absolutely need it for something, it’s still there.

Now then…

The Bad:

Sadly, though my Edge experience overall was pleasant, the browser has some issues to fix first.  Starting from the top, it was nice that I could carry over my favorites from another browser, it would have been better if I could carry over password/login data like you can with browsers like Firefox.

More concerning though, drag and drop functionality didn’t work for me on any site or web app I visited.  Anytime I tried to drag a file from my desktop onto the browser, it wouldn’t go.  Similarly, I couldn’t drag photos off the browser and onto my computer.

There were a few other strange things.  For example, when editing a Google Doc, I couldn’t paste something into the doc.  I also couldn’t activate offline mode on Google Docs (though that could be Google’s fault, I suppose).

After a while, some of my tabs in my browser went blank.  The window was still there, but rather than displaying the site title and favicon, it just showed a blank box.

The browser is also a bit of a resource hog.  When opened for a while, it was consuming a lot of my computer’s memory.  At one point, the browser actually froze up on me.

The biggest thing holding it back from being a true contender right now, however, is the lack of extensions.  Both Chrome and Firefox can be expanded to do some fantastic things thanks to their deep libraries of extensions.

Microsoft has said that extension support is coming soon for the browser, but currently, you’re stuck with Edge as is.  Speaking of, the share and quick note features are pretty limited.  I was only able to save to OneNote (which I don’t use), Evernote (which I also really don’t use) or send directly in an email.  Simply being able to download the image with notes would have been nice.  Social sharing wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Lastly, Constant Contact doesn’t work with Edge (though it displayed a message letting me know that they’re working on it).  I’m sure they’re not the only site not working on Edge.  Netflix however, ran flawlessly.

Conclusion: The Edge of Glory

From my brief use, Edge seems to be a step in the right direction.  It’s fast, it looks nice, and it rendered websites properly.  Still, there’s some functionality issues to be worked out, and hopefully they can get down on the memory usage.

Ultimately, it’s just not a contender yet, and I don’t see any reason to switch from the browser you’re currently using…unless you’re using Internet Explorer.

Really, that’s the best part of Edge.  It signifies a long overdue end for a failing browser.  Hopefully it also marks the beginning of something much, much better.

Have you used Edge?  What do you think?  What’s your browser of choice?

Categories
News Tech and Software

Why Did the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street Journal, and United Airlines Crash?

What are the odds?  Just days after the release of the latest Terminator movie, it appears some major technological malfunctions are happening.  The New York Stock Exchange,  the Wall Street Journal website, and the computer systems for United Airlines have all experienced outages.

When the website for dentist up the road crashes, business will mostly carry on per usual.  But when networks like these are affected, even if it’s for an hour or so, the global economy can shift.

So what caused this?

Homeland Security has reported that there doesn’t seem to be any signs of malicious activity.  And despite the small window of time in which this all took place, the crashes seem to all be caused by unrelated glitches.

How Can the NYSE Just…Crash?

How can something as big as the New York Stock Exchange crash?  Because everything experiences crashes.  Websites and networks and servers all run off computers.  Computers are machines.  Machines, though quite resilient and prone to far fewer mistakes than humans, can still fail.

And they will fail.

Every machine has downtime, and while there are backups in place for these times, the backups can fail too.  The trick is get things back up and running as soon as you can if/when this occurs.

All the time, websites go down and are back up so quickly, no one even knew it happened.

But when it’s something like the NYSE, well, it’s a little hard to miss it.

To learn more about website crashes, their causes, and what to do about it, make sure to check out our popular blog post “Why Websites Crash“.

Are We Sure It Wasn’t the Machines?

You can never know for sure.  After all, we trust them with so much and they get smarter with each passing year.  When they inevitably turn on us, it will probably happen subtly as they test out their power and reach.

To be safe, we should start developing ways to resist them now.

I find the best way to defy them and their controlling ways is to go for a run outside or read a book.  A physical book.  You know, with pages and paper and ink.  They still exist, you know.

What’s the Current Status of the NYSE, WJS.com, and United Airlines?

Everything seems to be up and operational again.  United Airlines and WJS have both been back for a while, and trading on the New York Stock Exchange resumed shortly after 2pm Central Time.

Happy trading, everyone!  And remember what the Terminator films taught us:

The future’s not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.

So let’s make it a good one.

Were you affected by today’s outages?  Let’s say, hypothetically, I wanted to invest in something.  Anything specifically I should jump on right now?

  Just days after the release of the latest Terminator movie Why Did the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street Journal, and United Airlines Crash?

Categories
Services Tech and Software

Why Websites Crash and What to Do

(In honor of Facebook being down for almost two hours last week, we decided to take a moment and talk about website outages and why they happen.  The truth is, every website crashes sooner or later.  It’s simply the nature of the business)

In honor of Facebook being down for almost two hours last week Why Websites Crash and What to Do 

Every website crashes.

Facebook has “what do I do with my life right now” crashes.

Twitter has Fail Whale crashes.

Tech Crunch has WordPress crashes.

The Department of Justice has Anonymous crashes.

Google, Gizmodo, and GoDaddy have all gone down.  Their data misplaced, but eventually found.

It might be brief or even while you sleep.  Hopefully it doesn’t happen every single week.

But every website crashes.  Yours will too, if you have one.

Unless it’s a Radiate Digital site.  Those don’t crash….

Just kidding.  Even our websites crash.  Rarely.

Why Do Websites Crash?

There are endless reasons why a website could go down.  There could be a problem in the code.  There could be a problem with the server.  There could be a cyber terrorist organization that’s spamming your site to prove a point to the world.

In honor of Facebook being down for almost two hours last week Why Websites Crash and What to Do

But why can’t websites be impervious to crashes? you ask.

Because things happen.  Look at machines.  Every machine requires downtime.  Something breaks or they need maintenance before something breaks, or they get replaced with a new machine that still breaks despite being new.

Unless someone finds a way to create a perpetual motion engine (which they won’t), machines need downtime.

And websites are no different (partially because they run on machines).  You can set backups in place.  You can take extra precautions.  But with a list of a billion things that could go wrong, something is bound to succeed in bringing your website down sooner or later.

Also, you need to factor in human error.  People operate and update websites.  People maintain the servers your site is hosted on.  People, as wonderful as they are, make mistakes.

All it takes is a brief lapse in judgment for everything to come crashing down….

In honor of Facebook being down for almost two hours last week Why Websites Crash and What to Do

How Do I Know if My Website Has Crashed?

If your site appears to have crashed, don’t panic just yet.  First, check other websites and see if they are working.  If they aren’t, then you’re probably having a connection problem on your end.  Either that, or the machines have made their first move, cutting all of humanity off from their precious world wide web.

If just your website isn’t working, it never hurts to try a different browser.  You can also try a “hard refresh”.  To do so, you either press Shift + F5 on Windows or Shift + cmd + R on a Mac.

If you’ve tried all of these and your site still isn’t loading, it’s quite possible that your site has gone down.

What Do I Do if My Site Crashes?

Well, if you’re one of our clients, you contact us.  That’s what we’re here for.  If you’re not one of our clients, you’re out of luck.  Your website is dead and gone forever.  And you will never get any of it back.

Kidding, of course.

Your best bet would be to contact your hosting company.

If you don’t know who your hosting company is, try and get a hold of someone who does.  Though honestly, you should probably have some idea of where your website is hosted.  It’s like knowing where your social security card is.  You might not need it very often, but when you do, it’s very good to have it around.  And if you don’t know where it is, well, that could be another large problem in itself.

Once you find where it’s hosted and contact the host-er, someone should hopefully be able to help you out.

If website crashing is an inevitability, then the ability to get a site back up is arguably as important as keeping it from crashing in the first place.  For example, when Facebook crashed last week, it was down for less than two hours.

Considering how rare that site crashes, that’s some pretty small downtime.

We try to keep it the same way for our clients.  Among the websites we manage, downtown is very rare.  When it does it happen, we don’t rest until we know what’s causing it, and how we can fix it.

During the process, we also make sure to keep open communication with our clients.  After all, websites are incredibly important to modern businesses.  For some, a midday website crash is the equivalent of their store closing during peak business hours.

That’s something nobody wants.

You know what everyone does want though? A great looking, affordable website! Click here to contact us today about our web design, hosting, and management options. They start as low as $99 a month!

And when the day comes where your website crashes, we can be there for you.

In honor of Facebook being down for almost two hours last week Why Websites Crash and What to Do

Ahhh memories…

Have you ever experienced a terribly timed website crash?  Do you remember the days of the Fail Whale?  How about when YouTube used to crash every 10 minutes?  What do you do when a site crashes?