Posts Tagged "open-source software"

What Features Do You Need on Your Website?

The right web space features can provide excitement, convenience and many other beneficial aspects for your visitors. However, the wrong features can have precisely the opposite effect. When a site is bogged down with features which don’t work properly, aren’t properly maintained or are simply in the way, visitors are likely to look elsewhere. Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to choose the best feature for your web space, along with a few which you absolutely don’t want to waste time on.

Determining the Best Features for Your Site

For nearly every site, there are a few basic features which are essential. If you run a business site of any kind, you need a reliable, trustworthy e-commerce feature to ensure smooth, easy transactions.

If you want your site to be interactive, you need a feature or features which allow for customer input. This might come in the form of a blog, a forum or a chat space – choose the feature which best reflects and complements your own unique business. Once that interactive feature is in place, be sure to maintain it properly—respond in a timely manner and ensure that it’s running well at all times.

Checking out sites which are similar to yours can be a huge time-saver when it comes to selecting features. Visit the web space of a company you are familiar with, and take a close look at which features they offer. If the company is selling a product or service which is similar to your own and is run in a similar manner, chances are good that the same features will be beneficial to your site as well. Taking a look at the most popular packaged plans can also give you a good idea of what may benefit your site. Check out the options here to get started.

Considering your target market is another very important step in choosing features. If your demographic consists of tech-savvy younger consumers, feel free to go crazy and add the most cutting-edge, up-to-date features you can find. Only add features you feel comfortable maintaining, however—those tech-savvy visitors will only be annoyed if they find a feature which isn’t running properly.

If, on the other hand, your target market spans several demographics, you must consider the possibility that many of your visitors may not be as computer-literate as you are. If you sell a product, it may be purchased as a gift—by somebody’s 90-year-old grandmother. If there’s even a chance that your site will attract visitors who are less than savvy when it comes to computer use, keep your essential features as simple as possible. You can still use any feature you think will be beneficial. Simply place the more cutting-edge features below the fold, or someplace else where they can be easily found, but where they won’t create confusion.

What You Don’t Need

Regardless of the type of web space you’re creating or maintaining, there are a couple of features you simply don’t need. They tend to annoy and turn away more customers than anything else, and they don’t have any real value.

Flash intros may be one of the most annoying features on the internet. These introductions were a great way to introduce visitors to your site and showcase your creativity—ten years ago. These days, they’re highly annoying, especially if they can’t be turned off. Ditch them if you have them, and don’t even think about creating a new one.

Auto-play video or audio is nearly as annoying as a Flash intro. We’ve all encountered these from time to time—irritating and inexplicably loud clips of sound, video or both which launch automatically when we visit a site. If you’re like most, you frantically click until you can shut them up. Don’t force your visitors through the same annoying process—avoid auto-play like the plague.

Going Mobile

One last component of your site which can’t be ignored is mobile compatibility. While it’s not technically a ‘feature,’ it’s something you need to have in order to reach more customers and keep them happy. With the increasing numbers of site visitors using smartphones and tablets, mobile compatibility is swiftly becoming a must instead of a nice ‘extra.’ If your site isn’t easily viewable on mobile devices, you’re cutting yourself off from a huge demographic of potential visitors and customers. Choosing the right features is essential to the success of your site, so start your research today and begin building the best possible web space for your business!

Do You Really Need E-Commerce?

E-Commerce, for many online sellers, is somewhat like the last frontier. You want to offer the service, you think you’re ready, but something keeps holding you back. What if you make a mistake? What if something goes wrong? What if…what if…?

This type of thinking, although common, is ultimately bad for business. Your web space deserves all the time and attention you can give it, and your customers deserve the utmost in convenience. In short, if you’re selling products, you do need e-commerce. Here, we’ll review the best ways to get started and the benefits your customers will enjoy.

Start with Existing Marketplaces

For the truly commerce-phobic, sites which incorporate e-commerce are an excellent way to become familiar with selling online. Etsy, which is dedicated to handmade and vintage products, is a great example. Through these sites, you can become familiar with the process of handling credit card and PayPal orders. After a while, once you feel more confident, you can move up to offering e-commerce in your own personal web space.

Choose a Trusted Platform or Software

There are several reliable and trustworthy selling platforms out there, each backed by a reputable security guarantee. These are your choices—don’t be tempted to cut costs by choosing an unknown provider. When dealing with customers’ money, safety is key. Your web space needs to be a safe place for customers to shop, and a cut-rate e-commerce provider is a very dangerous way to save a few bucks.

Make It Convenient

In the past, you’ve probably found a product or service online, only to find that you can’t purchase it. Frustrating, right? Don’t let your customers go through this—they’re likely to end up becoming somebody else’s customers.

Convenience is huge when it comes to online shopping, and a checkout right on your web space is the most convenient option. While some online sellers start by offering products through a larger site such as Amazon, keep in mind that this also automatically places other products in front of your customers. Start small if you must, but keep your own e-commerce web space as your ultimate goal. In today’s society, where we’ve all been conditioned to expect service at a single click, your customers will appreciate the effort.

Show Your Accepted Payment Methods

Whether it’s actually true or not, seeing a verified, familiar e-commerce checkout logo on a web space automatically instills a level of trust in customers. Seeing that your web space will accept their credit card or PayPal lets them know that you’re serious about your business, and have taken the steps to ensure a speedy, convenient checkout experience. This speaks volumes about your reliability as a seller, and nearly always leads to increased sales.

If you’re on an extremely tight budget, you may want to begin by accepting only PayPal. This is low-cost in nearly every scenario, and is quickly becoming one of the most trusted forms of e-commerce. Once the increased sales start rolling in, you’ll have enough extra cash to advance your e-commerce into having your own credit card merchant account. In the meantime, however, your customers will still feel an increased level of trust at seeing an e-commerce name they know related to your web space.

Look Professional

There are a few major, nationally-known sites which simply do not offer e-commerce. This is common in the worlds of haute couture, for example. However, these sites can afford to avoid e-commerce because they are so well known. For most small businesses, this level of name recognition is still years into the future.

In order to appear as professional as possible, e-commerce is a must. Regardless of how detailed your product or service descriptions, or how beautiful your photographs, customers will feel they’re dealing with an amateur if they can’t purchase via your own web space.

Conclusion

Although it can be daunting at first, e-commerce is a true must for any serious business-related web space. Not only will it make purchasing more convenient for your customers, but it will lend your site an air of professionalism and consumer trust which can’t be found through any other site component. Want to get started today? Check out these hosts, all of which let you install an e-commerce system with a few clicks!

Top 10 WordPress Plugins

WordPress’s basic feature set makes it a top-notch blogging platform, but the software isn’t limited to that. There are all sorts of plugins that can enhance and extend its functionality. Let’s look into ten of those.

Jetpack

While it’s generally an inferior option to hosting a WordPress site on your own web space, the hosted solution provided by WordPress.com does include a number of interesting social features. Additional stats, email subscriptions, and social networking integration are just three of these features; there’s a huge list of everything included at the link. Jetpack is a massive upgrade to WordPress’s ability to build and retain community, and can be useful for almost anyone.

Tumblr Importer

Not every worthwhile plugin is as feature-packed as Jetpack; some are more utilitarian. Tumblr Importer does just that: it imports posts from a Tumblr blog to your new WordPress installation. If you were using Tumblr before setting up your own web space, this means that you can effortlessly carry content over. Your users will never know that this plugin is there—but it does its job, and that’s what matters.

Hotfix

If everything is going well, Hotfix does nothing. Literally, nothing. That’s okay, because this plugin is intended for when things don’t go well—it patches known bugs in the installed version of WordPress that have yet to be fixed in a core release. It’s not a substitute for a WordPress update, but it can help immensely with security while you’re waiting on that update.

Akismet

Spam is ubiquitous in comment threads and email inboxes the world over; that doesn’t mean you can’t combat it, though. Akismet is a web service that identifies comments as spam via a sophisticated pattern recognition algorithm, pulled from its data on every site using the service. It’ll go a long way to making your site’s comments worth using.

Google Analytics for WordPress

If you want advanced data on your site’s visitors, Google Analytics provides some of the best tools available. This plugin ties that functionality into WordPress, allowing you to customize and target your content or advertising for its viewers.

bbPress

If you want to foster community among your users, a message board is a great way to do that—but most of the existing forum software is hard to use and set up on your own web space. bbPress ties that functionality into WordPress, giving it a fully functional message board.

Google XML Sitemaps

Your content is only worth as much as its viewers, and most of those viewers will be encountering it through a search engine. XML sitemaps allow search engines to better explore and catalog your site, increasing its visibility. This plugin generates a sitemap automatically, in real time. All of your pages are included and made available to search engines, without any effort on your part.

Ultimate TinyMCE

WordPress has a basic WYSIWYG text editor for your posts, but by default you’ll have to use HTML to do anything really impressive with the formatting. Ultimate TinyMCE beefs up the options of that text editor, and enables you to do far more entirely from within the graphical interface. It’s great for non-technical users.

NextGEN Gallery

If your site uses a lot of images, a properly organized image gallery can be a good way to make those available to users. NextGEN Gallery integrates a powerful, easy-to-use image gallery solution into WordPress, and makes presentation of visual content much easier on you.

WP Super Cache

By default, WordPress runs resource-intensive PHP scripts to generate every page served to your users. WP Super Cache stores the HTML results of those scripts, and—unless the page has been updated—will serve these static HTML versions to users if possible. It’s the same result on the user’s end, but it conserves your web server’s resources.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

The Two Versions of WordPress:

You actually have two options with WordPress: the self-hosted version (wordpress.org), and the WordPress.com version (wordpress.com). Each version has its advantages and disadvantages.

In the WordPress.com version, you just sign up for a blog very similar to the way you sign up for free email. You get an instant blog that is hosted on http://wordpress.com/.

In the case of the self-hosted version, the software is free, but you need a domain name and have to purchase web hosting so you can host it yourself.

Pros and Cons of the WordPress.com Version

It’s easy to start a blog or website with WordPress.com. All you need to do is register and then start working on your website. You don’t have to worry about hosting, setup, upgrades, security, backups, spam, etc. which are all taken care of by WordPress.com.

WordPress.com does provide many themes and a lot of features, but you are limited to only those themes. You can’t do any custom code changes and you can’t upload any plug-ins. So basically, it has limitations as far as the functionality and customization options are concerned.

There are other drawbacks as well. WordPress.com does not allow you to monetize your blog using affiliate links and pay per click programs like AdSense or Infolinks. Although you can have your own domain name, like yourbusiness.com for your website, a paid upgrade is required. If you want it free, you only get a subdomain, e.g. yourbusiness.wordpress.com.

Pros and Cons of the Self-Hosted Version (wordpress.org)

In the case of the self-hosted version, which you can get directly at http://wordpress.org/, the advantages and disadvantages are different. You get a free script that you have to install on a web server. You are responsible for maintenance aspects of your site, like hosting, installation, security, backup, and fighting spam. However, these are not difficult to do even with minimal knowledge about web hosting. Good web hosts, such as the ones recommended here, have a one-click install of WordPress, and after that everything can be managed from the dashboard. For any technical issues, the customer support team of your hosting provider will be able to help you, though this is rarely required.

If you have a self-hosted version of WordPress, you have complete freedom. There are no restrictions on what you can do with your website, except the reasonable restrictions that your hosting provider may impose. With paid web hosting, this is not something to worry about.

If you want to get yourself a web presence, then one of the best ways would be to find WordPress web space that allows you to do one-click installation. It’s generally better to use the self-hosted version rather than live with the restrictions of WordPress.com.

WordPress Web Space

With humble beginnings as a simple blogging platform, WordPress has since then grown into one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in use today. WordPress web space is available on most web hosts and its many benefits make it the preferred CMS for not only blogs, but also for small business websites.

What You Can Do with WordPress

WordPress is a web application that manages all aspects of your website in the same way an operating system manages all aspects of your computer. It allows you to input the content you want to display on your website, specify how it should be displayed, and then displays it to your visitors. It also allows your visitors to interact with you and other visitors. It manages all the content including its input, storage, retrieval, and presentation.

WordPress was originally designed to be a blogging software and so it has all the features that a typical blog would require, such as making a new post, accepting comments from users, etc. It also allows you to create static pages on your web space which can be used to present non-blog content, for example, an About page or a static home page. All these can then be linked through customizable menus and widgets, and this makes WordPress very suitable for blogs as well as small websites.

Benefits of Using WordPress

  • It’s free. You don’t have to pay anything for the software. The only thing you have to pay for is the web hosting and domain name.
  • It’s easy to install. Our recommended web hosts all come with a bundled tool called Fantastico, which allows you to install WordPress easily from your control panel.
  • It has a user-friendly and intuitive interface. Once you’ve logged into WordPress, you don’t need any special training to use it. If you know how to use a web browser and a word processor, you already have enough skills to work with it. You won’t find yourself frequently running to the web for help even in the initial stages.
  • Help is always available. Even if you want to do something advanced, you’ll find a lot of help on the web. All you need to do is Google it. WordPress has a large following and an active online community.
  • It has lots of free and paid resources. WordPress functions can be expanded by using pieces of software called plug-ins, and the appearance of your website can be customized with themes. There are many plug-ins and themes available for you to choose from, and in most cases they’re free. Everything can be installed right from your WordPress dashboard. All updates to WordPress, its plug-ins and themes can also be done from the dashboard.
  • It won’t get outdated. Being open-source software supported by a huge online community has its advantages. WordPress is being continuously improved and new features are being added with each release. The themes and plug-ins are also being continuously improved.

Are you interested in WordPress web space? These web hosts allow you to install WordPress in just a few clicks.