Corporate Blogs

Fighting the Australian Bushfires with an Open Heart

WP Engine -

The bushfires currently raging in Australia are among the worst in the nation’s history, and since the fire season began in late July, they’ve devastated large swaths of the country—we won’t know the true extent of the crisis until after the fires have died down. It’s been estimated that more than 10.7 million hectares of… The post Fighting the Australian Bushfires with an Open Heart appeared first on WP Engine.

Finding the Right Job for You, Safely and Securely

LinkedIn Official Blog -

When you’re ready for a career change, we have the tools and the tips to help you land your next job. We also have the technologies and teams in place to keep you safe as you job search. All of this work helps keep LinkedIn a safe, trusted and professional place for you and everyone looking for their next big opportunity. We use automated defenses and people reviewers to stop fake accounts, spam, and scams (see more in our recent transparency report). This enables us to catch the majority of... .

Bing partners with the ecosystem to drive fresh signals

Bing's Webmaster Blog -

Bing Webmaster Tools had launched the Adaptive URL submission capability that allowed webmasters to submit up to 10,000 URLs using the online toolkit through Bing webmaster portal (Submit URLs option) or in batch mode using Batch API. Since launch we have seen high adoption rate by large websites as well as small and medium websites.   We have been working with multiple partners to further Bing’s vision to drive fundamental shift in how search engines find content using direct notification from websites whenever content is created or updated.   A few examples to note: During the recent SEO Conference (Pubcon Pro, Las Vegas) Linkedin.com and love2dev.com showcased how they used the URL Submission API, ensuring search users find timely, relevant and trustworthy information on Bing.   Similarly, we have been working with leading SEO platforms like Botify, to integrate URL Submission API in their product offerings. This integration is an expansion to Botify’s new FastIndex solution, the first within the Botify Activation product suite, the partnership builds upon Bing’s new programmatic URL submission process. For more information please refer to the annoncement from Botify. URL Submission API is programmed to review the site performance that are registered on Bing webmaster tools and adaptively increase their daily quota for submitting content to Bing. We encourage websites to register on Bing webmaster tools using standard methods or Google Search Console Import or Domain Connect based verification.   Apart from integration of URL Submission API, Botify is participating in Bing’s content submission API pilot, which allows for the direct push of HTML, images, and other site content to the search engine, reducing the need for crawling.   Please refer the documentation for Easy set-up guide, Batch URL Submission API,  cURL code example, for more details on URL Submission API.   We are happy to bring in more partners to accelerate this shift in content discovery.   Thanks!  Bing Webmaster Tools Team 

Announcing the Cloudflare Access App Launch

CloudFlare Blog -

Every person joining your team has the same question on Day One: how do I find and connect to the applications I need to do my job?Since launch, Cloudflare Access has helped improve how users connect to those applications. When you protect an application with Access, users never have to connect to a private network and never have to deal with a clunky VPN client. Instead, they reach on-premise apps as if they were SaaS tools. Behind the scenes, Access evaluates and logs every request to those apps for identity, giving administrators more visibility and security than a traditional VPN.Administrators need about an hour to deploy Access. End user logins take about 20 ms, and that response time is consistent globally. Unlike VPN appliances, Access runs in every data center in Cloudflare’s network in 200 cities around the world. When Access works well, it should be easy for administrators and invisible to the end user.However, users still need to locate the applications behind Access, and for internally managed applications, traditional dashboards require constant upkeep. As organizations grow, that roster of links keeps expanding. Department leads and IT administrators can create and publish manual lists, but those become a chore to maintain. Teams need to publish custom versions for contractors or partners that only make certain tools visible.Starting today, teams can use Cloudflare Access to solve that challenge. We’re excited to announce the first feature in Access built specifically for end users: the Access App Launch portal.The Access App Launch is a dashboard for all the applications protected by Access. Once enabled, end users can login and connect to every app behind Access with a single click.How does it work?When administrators secure an application with Access, any request to the hostname of that application stops at Cloudflare’s network first. Once there, Cloudflare Access checks the request against the list of users who have permission to reach the application.To check identity, Access relies on the identity provider that the team already uses. Access integrates with providers like OneLogin, Okta, AzureAD, G Suite and others to determine who a user is. If the user has not logged in yet, Access will prompt them to do so at the identity provider configured.When the user logs in, they are redirected through a subdomain unique to each Access account. Access assigns that subdomain based on a hostname already active in the account. For example, an account with the hostname “widgetcorp.tech” will be assigned “widgetcorp.cloudflareaccess.com”.The Access App Launch uses the unique subdomain assigned to each Access account. Now, when users visit that URL directly, Cloudflare Access checks their identity and displays only the applications that the user has permission to reach. When a user clicks on an application, they are redirected to the application behind it. Since they are already authenticated, they do not need to login again.In the background, the Access App Launch decodes and validates the token stored in the cookie on the account’s subdomain.How is it configured?The Access App Launch can be configured in the Cloudflare dashboard in three steps. First, navigate to the Access tab in the dashboard. Next, enable the feature in the “App Launch Portal” card. Finally, define who should be able to use the Access App Launch in the modal that appears and click “Save”. Permissions to use the Access App Launch portal do not impact existing Access policies for who can reach protected applications.Administrators do not need to manually configure each application that appears in the portal. Access App Launch uses the policies already created in the account to generate a page unique to each individual user, automatically.Defense-in-depth against phishing attacksPhishing attacks attempt to trick users by masquerading as a legitimate website. In the case of business users, team members think they are visiting an authentic application. Instead, an attacker can present a spoofed version of the application at a URL that looks like the real thing.Take “example.com” vs “examрle.com” - they look identical, but one uses the Cyrillic “р” and becomes an entirely different hostname. If an attacker can lure a user to visit “examрle.com”, and make the site look like the real thing, that user could accidentally leak credentials or information.To be successful, the attacker needs to get the victim to visit that fraudulent URL. That frequently happens via email from untrusted senders.The Access App Launch can help prevent these attacks from targeting internal tools. Teams can instruct users to only navigate to internal applications through the Access App Launch dashboard. When users select a tile in the page, Access will send users to that application using the organization’s SSO.Cloudflare Gateway can take it one step further. Gateway’s DNS resolver filtering can help defend from phishing attacks that utilize sites that resemble legitimate applications that do not sit behind Access. To learn more about adding Gateway, in conjunction with Access, sign up to join the beta here.What’s next?As part of last week’s announcement of Cloudflare for Teams, the Access App Launch is now available to all Access customers today. You can get started with instructions here.Interested in learning more about Cloudflare for Teams? Read more about the announcement and features here.

Top 10 WordPress Plugins for 2020

InMotion Hosting Blog -

WordPress plugins allow you to add robust functionality and eye-catching aesthetic elements to your WordPress site with ease. They save you time and money by giving you the ability to extend the capabilities of your website without a total overhaul. Certain plugins even refresh the look of your website by quickly and easily adding modern design elements with little to no code. However, with thousands of plugins to choose from, how do you know which plugin is best for you? Continue reading Top 10 WordPress Plugins for 2020 at InMotion Hosting Blog.

Turtlenecks, Tenacity, and the Truth: What I Learned Speaking to Gen Z on Three Continents

WP Engine -

It’s hard to start out a panel discussion with a fashion faux pas, but that’s exactly what happened to me during one of the panels we hosted at our 2019 global summits, in which we pressure tested our annual Gen Z research with real live members of this generation.  I was wearing my favorite turtleneck… The post Turtlenecks, Tenacity, and the Truth: What I Learned Speaking to Gen Z on Three Continents appeared first on WP Engine.

Harness the Power of Atomic Blocks with Navigation Pro

WP Engine -

One of the benefits of using WordPress is the massive library of themes users can choose from to quickly build great-looking websites that fit their needed use case.   Genesis-built themes are among the most widely-used themes in the WordPress ecosystem for this very reason. Each theme provides users with a professional look and feel, and… The post Harness the Power of Atomic Blocks with Navigation Pro appeared first on WP Engine.

Top 7 Most Popular WordPress Themes

HostGator Blog -

The post Top 7 Most Popular WordPress Themes appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you’re building out a new website in WordPress, choosing a quality theme is going to be your main concern.  Choose the wrong theme and success is going to be an uphill battle. But, with the right theme it’s not only going to be incredibly easy to build out your site, but you’ll be able to offer an incredible user experience as well. Below you’ll learn about what features to look for in a quality WordPress theme, and seven of the most popular WordPress themes that would be a great choice for your new website.  Choosing a High-Quality WordPress Theme It can get overwhelming to choose the perfect theme for your WordPress website. There are free and paid options that total up into the thousands. But how do you choose the right theme for your new website? Luckily, a lot of themes cater to different markets, so not every theme will be right for your website, but there are still plenty of options irrespective of your niche. Keep the following qualities in mind as you browse for the right theme. 1. Simple is Always Better A lot of WordPress themes may look great, but a lot is going on behind the scenes. This means a very time-consuming site setup and the chance that you might not ever get your site to function the way you want. Instead, look for a theme that has a clean and simple design that’s in alignment with your niche. Remember, the goal of your site is to offer your visitors a great site experience and help them find the information they’re after in the shortest amount of time possible. Even if your theme looks great, if it doesn’t convert visitors into subscribers, or customers, then it really isn’t doing its job.  2. Responsive Is Not an Option; It’s Required When choosing a theme, it needs to be responsive. Your site needs to look good on multiple different screen sizes, whether that’s mobile, tablet, desktop, or a window that your visitor has resized. Plus, the popularity of mobile devices only continues to grow. Depending on your website, over half of your traffic could come from mobile devices. Luckily, most WordPress themes available today will be responsive by default. But, the rogue non-responsive themes might still be available, so it’s a good thing to check. 3. Page Builder Plugin Support When you’re building out your theme, you’ll usually be changing the theme’s settings within the included theme settings menu, or from the built-in WordPress customizer.  However, some themes also rely on WordPress page builders to help create a truly unique layout. Some premium themes will have their own page builders included, but usually, these won’t function in the same way as a plugin that’s perfected the page building system. If you know you want to use page builder functionality to build out your theme, then look for WordPress themes that support plugins like Beaver Builder, Elementor, and Page Builder by SiteOrigin.  4. Quality of Ratings and Reviews One great way to gauge the quality of a theme is to look at the reviews and overall star rating. This will give you a general consensus of what the current users of the theme think about it. However, take this feedback with a grain of salt, as it doesn’t represent every site owner who uses the theme. Often, this is a group of the people who either loved or hated the theme. But, if the overwhelming majority are giving the theme poor ratings, then it’s probably a theme that you want to skip.   5. Consider Premium Over Free When you’re building your first website, it can be tempting to go with a free theme. But, free WordPress themes often won’t give you the same level of customization and quality that you can get in a paid theme. Premium themes are premium for a reason and often come with several features that make the investment worthwhile. When you think about the overall investment, the price you’ll pay upfront is incredibly cheap. This theme will be the face of your website and will either support or make it more difficult for your online business to succeed. Plus, premium themes often come with premium support channels. So, you can rely on their expert team if you ever run into any issues with your theme.  6. You Like Most of the Sample Theme As Is The final factor you should look for when choosing a theme is how the sample theme looks and functions. You can get away with making lots of customizations to your theme, but often you don’t want to stray too far from the general layout of the sample theme. When you install a theme on your site, you’ll have the opportunity to import all of the demo content and settings so this will give you a fully built out site to work from. Then you can subtract the features you don’t want present and have a site that looks very professional. This approach to building out your website will save you a lot of time during the initial build.  7 Most Popular WordPress Themes No one wants to spend time digging through thousands of themes to find the perfect theme for their site. Especially, trying to find themes that embody all of the principles highlighted above. The themes below are some of the most popular themes currently on the market. The list isn’t ranked from best to worst. Rather, it’s a list of the most popular themes that power a large proportion of WordPress site across the web. Here’s the list:  1. Avada Avada is the number one selling theme of all time in the ThemeForest marketplace. This theme is highly versatile and can be used to build any kind of website you desire. Right out of the box it’s equipped with over 250 pre-made designs for you to choose from, and over 40 fully built websites you can customize to your liking. The overarching goal of this theme is to help you build your dream website in as little as time possible. Once you’ve selected your site, and added a few pre-built elements, you can customize further with the drag and drop builder. This theme is compatible with nearly all major WordPress plugins and can support a near unlimited number of designs. Plus, with over 250K installs, you know you’re in good company.  You can currently purchase the theme for $60 from ThemeForest.  2. Divi Divi has been one of the most popular multi-purpose themes on the market for quite some time. It was built by the team at Elegant Themes, who are one of the leading WordPress theme and plugins creators. If you’re not quite sure the type of site you want to build, then Divi can be an excellent option for you. It’s equipped with twenty different layouts for you to choose from, plus a bundled drag and drop builder that lets you customize your site without touching a line of code. You can create custom layouts and also save them for later use, so you won’t have to recreate the wheel every time you’re building a new site.  To get access to this theme, you’ll need to sign up for a yearly subscription to Elegant Themes for $89. This fee will also get you access to their entire site library and a handful of useful plugins as well.  3. Astra Astra will help you create a modern-looking website in record time. This theme comes in both a free and premium version. This is great, because you can start with the free theme and if you want access to more features, then you can upgrade to the premium version. There are a series of demo themes you can choose from and instantly import this content into your site, so you’ll have a fully built out website in just a number of clicks.  You can get started with the free version, or go straight for the Pro version for $59 today.  4. StudioPress Themes StudioPress is one of the best selling collections of themes on the market. All of the themes offered here are built on top of the Genesis framework, which is often lauded by WordPress developers, so you know it’s high quality. All of the themes integrate seamlessly with the new Gutenburg editor, and are very fast and SEO-friendly right out of the box. Plus, there are a variety of Genesis-specific plugins you can use with these themes as well.  These themes can be purchased individually, or you can buy all of the themes in a bundle if you can’t decide which theme is best for your new website.  5. X Theme X Theme is one of the most popular themes on ThemeForest. Users are literally pouring their hearts out about their love for this theme. It has over 125K sales in the ThemeForest store.  Plus, it’s a relatively new theme as well, so it’s become popular incredibly fast.  It’s a multi-purpose WordPress theme, so it can be used to build nearly any style of website out there. The customizations are handled by the Cornerstone Page Builder, along with unique designs they call “stacks.” You can add and rearrange elements however you’d like, and have complete control over the end result of your site. No matter how you choose to build our your site, then end result will be truly stunning. All of the designs created with this theme are truly unique and pleasing to the eye.  This premium theme currently costs $59 from ThemeForest.  6. Bridge Bridge is another top-selling theme in the ThemeForest marketplace. Bridge offers you a variety of modern designs to choose from and a near-endless supply of features that go beyond just designing your site. For example, you can opt for bundled backups, instant theme setup, and you’ll have access to an expert support team 24/7. Plus, over 50k people have currently purchased the theme, so you know there’s a lot of satisfied website owners out there.  Beyond the additional features, you’ll have over 200 different demo themes you can import content from, 24 different layouts to choose between, and access to a handful of premium plugins.  Currently, you can pick up this theme for $59 at ThemeForest.  7. SociallyViral The final theme on this list is SociallyViral. This theme was created by the all-star team of developers at MyThemeShop. Every single theme they create is incredibly high quality and popular, and this theme is no different. In fact, this is a WordPress theme that’s based on the super-popular site ViralNova. This theme is more specific in the type of website it’s built for–namely, magazine-style content sites whose goal is to boost social shares.  This theme is incredibly easy to setup, SEO-friendly, and super speedy right out of the gate.  You can currently pick up this theme for $59 from the MyThemeShop store.  Choosing the Right WordPress Theme for You Hopefully, you have a few themes on your list that you’re exploring in-depth or considering installing or purchasing. Thousands and thousands of websites are already using any theme on the list above, and all are incredibly high-quality. You simply can’t go wrong with any of the above themes when you’re building out your new WordPress website.  But, even if none of the above themes spark your interest, that’s fine. Just keep the following points in mind as you search for the perfect WordPress theme. Choose a theme with a simple design that won’t be overwhelming to your visitors.Make sure that the theme is responsive.See if the theme includes support for a page builder plugin, or has a high-quality page builder included.The theme should be backed by quality user ratings and a high overall star rating.Opt for a premium plugin if you want to build a higher quality site with more features.The theme sample or demo content is very close to how you ultimately want your site to look. Whether you’re choosing a popular WordPress theme from the list above, or selecting a more niche theme that better suits the goals of your site, you’ll be in great hands by choosing WordPress as the foundation of your website.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Introducing Cloudflare for Campaigns

CloudFlare Blog -

During the past year, we saw nearly 2 billion global citizens go to the polls to vote in democratic elections. There were major elections in more than 50 countries, including India, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom, as well as elections for the European Parliament. In 2020, we will see a similar number of elections in countries from Peru to Myanmar. In November, U.S citizens will cast their votes for the 46th President, 435 seats in the U.S House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, and many state and local elections. Recognizing the importance of maintaining public access to election information, Cloudflare launched the Athenian Project in 2017, providing U.S. state and local government entities with the tools needed to secure their election websites for free. As we’ve seen, however, political parties and candidates for office all over the world are also frequent targets for cyberattack. Cybersecurity needs for campaign websites and internal tools are at an all time high.Although Cloudflare has helped improve the security and performance of political parties and candidates for office all over the world for years, we’ve long felt that we could do more. So today, we’re announcing Cloudflare for Campaigns, a suite of Cloudflare services tailored to campaign needs. Cloudflare for Campaigns is designed to make it easier for all political campaigns and parties, especially those with small teams and limited resources, to get access to cybersecurity services.Risks faced by political campaignsSince Russians attempted to use cyberattacks to interfere in the U.S. Presidential election in 2016, the news has been filled with reports of cyber threats against political campaigns, in both the United States and around the world. Hackers targeted the Presidential campaigns of Emmanuel Macron in France and Angela Merkel in Germany with phishing attacks, the main political parties in the UK with DDoS attacks, and congressional campaigns in California with a combination of malware, DDoS attacks and brute force login attempts. Both because of our services to state and local government election websites through the Athenian Project and because a significant number of political parties and candidates for office use our services, Cloudflare has seen many attacks on election infrastructure and political campaigns firsthand.During the 2020 U.S. election cycle, Cloudflare has provided services to 18 major presidential campaigns, as well as a range of congressional campaigns. On a typical day, Cloudflare blocks 400,000 attacks against political campaigns, and, on a busy day, Cloudflare blocks more than 40 million attacks against campaigns.What is Cloudflare for Campaigns?Cloudflare for Campaigns is a suite of Cloudflare products focused on the needs of political campaigns, particularly smaller campaigns that don’t have the resources to bring significant cybersecurity resources in house. To ensure the security of a campaign website, the Cloudflare for Campaigns package includes Business-level service, as well as security tools particularly helpful for political campaigns websites, such as the web application firewall, rate limiting, load balancing, Enterprise level “I am Under Attack Support”, bot management, and multi-user account enablement.To ensure the security of internal campaign teams, the Cloudflare for Campaigns service will also provide tools for campaigns to ensure the security of their internal teams with Cloudflare Access, allowing for campaigns to secure, authenticate, and monitor user access to any domain, application, or path on Cloudflare, without using a VPN. Along with Access, we will be providing Cloudflare Gateway with DNS-based filtering at multiple locations to protect campaign staff as they navigate the Internet by keeping malicious content off the campaign’s network using DNS filtering, helping prevent users from running into phishing scams or malware sites. Campaigns can use Gateway after the product’s public release.Cloudflare for Campaigns also includes Cloudflare reliability and security guide, which lists a best practice guide for political campaigns to maintain their campaign site and secure their internal teams.Regulatory ChallengesAlthough there is widespread agreement that campaigns and political parties face threats of cyberattack, there is less consensus on how best to get political campaigns the help they need.  Many political campaigns and political parties operate under resource constraints, without the technological capability and financial resources to dedicate to cybersecurity. At the same time, campaigns around the world are the subject of a variety of different regulations intended to prevent corruption of democratic processes. As a practical matter, that means that, although campaigns may not have the resources needed to access cybersecurity services, donation of cybersecurity services to campaigns may not always be allowed.In the U.S., campaign finance regulations prohibit corporations from providing any contributions of either money or services to federal candidates or political party organizations. These rules prevent companies from offering free or discounted services if those services are not provided on the same terms and conditions to similarly situated members of the general public. The Federal Elections Commission (FEC), which enforces U.S. campaign finance laws, has struggled with the issue of how best to apply those rules to the provision of free or discounted cybersecurity services to campaigns. In consideration of a number of advisory opinions, they have publicly wrestled with the competing priorities of securing campaigns from cyberattack while not opening a backdoor to donation of goods services that are intended to curry favors with particular candidates.The FEC has issued two advisory opinions to tech companies seeking to provide free or discounted cybersecurity services to campaigns. In 2018, the FEC approved a request by Microsoft to offer a package of enhanced online account security protections for “election-sensitive” users. The FEC reasoned that Microsoft was offering the services to its paid users “based on commercial rather than political considerations, in the ordinary course of its business and not merely for promotional consideration or to generate goodwill.” In July 2019, the FEC approved a request by a cybersecurity company to provide low-cost anti-phishing services to campaigns because those services would be provided in the ordinary course of business and on the same terms and conditions as offered to similarly situated non-political clients.In September 2018, a month after Microsoft submitted its request, Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC), a nonprofit established with the mission to “secure our democratic campaign process by providing eligible campaigns and political parties, committees, and related organizations with knowledge, training, and resources to defend themselves from cyber threats,” submitted a request to the FEC to offer free or reduced-cost cybersecurity services, including from technology corporations, to federal candidates and parties. Over the following months, the FEC issued and requested comment on multiple draft opinions on whether the donation was permissible and, if so, on what basis. As described by the FEC, to support its position, DDC represented that “federal candidates and parties are singularly ill-equipped to counteract these threats.” The FEC’s advisory opinion to DDC noted:“You [DDC] state that presidential campaign committees and national party committees require expert guidance on cybersecurity and you contend that the 'vast majority of campaigns' cannot afford full-time cybersecurity staff and that 'even basic cybersecurity consulting software and services' can overextend the budgets of most congressional campaigns. AOR004. For instance, you note that a congressional candidate in California reported a breach to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in March of this year but did not have the resources to hire a professional cybersecurity firm to investigate the attack, or to replace infected computers. AOR003.” In May 2019, the FEC approved DDC’s request to partner with technology companies to provide free and discounted cybersecurity services “[u]nder the unusual and exigent circumstances” presented by the request and “in light of the demonstrated, currently enhanced threat of foreign cyberattacks against party and candidate committees.”All of these opinions demonstrate the FEC’s desire to allow campaigns to access affordable cybersecurity services because of the heightened threat of cyberattack, while still being cautious to ensure that those services are offered transparently and consistent with the goals of campaign finance laws.Partnering with DDC to Provide Free Services to US CandidatesWe share the view of both DDC and the FEC that political campaigns -- which are central to our democracy -- must have the tools to protect themselves against foreign cyberattack. Cloudflare is therefore excited to announce a new partnership with DDC to provide Cloudflare for Campaigns for free to candidates and parties that meet DDC’s criteria.To receive free services under DDC, political campaigns must meet the following criteria, as the DDC laid out to the FEC:A House candidate’s committee that has at least $50,000 in receipts for the current election cycle, and a Senate candidate’s committee that has at least $100,000 in receipts for the current election cycle;A House or Senate candidate’s committee for candidates who have qualified for the general election ballot in their respective elections; orAny presidential candidate’s committee whose candidate is polling above five percent in national polls.For more information on eligibility for these services under DDC and the next steps, please visit cloudflare.com/campaigns/usa. Election packageAlthough political campaigns are regulated differently all around the world, Cloudflare believes that the integrity of all political campaigns should be protected against powerful adversaries. With this in mind, Cloudflare will therefore also be offering Cloudflare for Campaigns as a paid service, designed to help campaigns all around the world as we attempt to address regulatory hurdles. For more information on how to sign up for the Cloudflare election package, please visit cloudflare.com/campaigns.

Things to Consider Before Offering Web Hosting to your Customers

Reseller Club Blog -

The rapid development of technology and the easy availability of the internet has pushed all businesses to build a digital presence. It has become imperative for companies to have a well-designed and quick-loading website. This demand has led to the emergence of web development companies offering a range of services. Both existing web development companies and new start-ups are working towards offering services that suffice all the requirements of the clients while ensuring top-notch customer experience.  As your web design business grows and you have a steady inflow of clients, you may consider offering web hosting solutions to your customers too. This seems to be the perfect move as you can create a steady source of income while your clients can save time by availing all the services from a single vendor.  How to be a Good Reseller The easiest way to set-up a web hosting business is by using Reseller Hosting services as it is easy to start and does not require a huge upfront investment for the infrastructure. If you opt for setting up your own hardware, you will have to make more substantial investments. Considering that starting with Reseller Hosting is the easiest and the most cost-effective way to start your web hosting business, you can always start with it and then, as your business gains momentum, set-up your own hardware. Before you do any of that, following are some of the things you should consider before offering web hosting services to your customers. Offering Support It is essential for you to account for the number of hours and effort that will be required in providing support to clients whom you have offered hosting services to. You may have sold hosting as a part of a complete package or offered just the hosting, but it is crucial for you to calculate the opportunity cost. Even if you may have opted for Reseller Hosting, not all service providers will provide customer support. It will fall upon you to ensure that the service is up and running, which would become arduous if you have opted for affordable Reseller Hosting with not much support.  Clients would also expect the website to be up 24*7, which is something you cannot control and will depend on the hosting provider. Since you would be handling website-related issues of the clients, it is natural for them to come to you with all kinds of technical queries. Will you be in a position to charge for the additional help or you will end up being a free technical resource? This should be evaluated before offering web hosting services for small businesses. So, it is extremely essential to get a service provider who offers continuous support to meet your needs. Securing Servers When you have multiple sites running on your server or Reseller Hosting server, the onus of maintaining the security falls on your company. Unless your web hosting reseller company provides robust support, applying updates and security patches will be your responsibility. This will require you to do everything by yourself or allocate your resources to do the same. If your clients face any problem that cannot be solved by you, the only option available would be to put in a support request yourself and then wait for the customer support to resolve the query or came back with a solution. Failed Payments While it is not uncommon across industries to come across clients who do not make timely payments, chasing a client for comparatively smaller invoices billed for hosting services can become painful. You can sell the hosting service as a part of the entire web development package, or just the hosting service to a client with an existing website. The cost of managing the web hosting business can be quite high, which should be considered. Terms of Service & Insurance It is essential to frame the terms of service and share it with your clients. You should clearly mention all the cases under which you can stop offering services to the client and what actions you can take in case of non-payment. Agreement of the client on these aspects is crucial to safeguard not just yours, but your client’s interest as well. The terms should clearly define your liabilities and responsibilities during the service. It would be best if you also had sufficient business insurance that covers any claims that arise out of the client accusing your organization of damages or loss in revenue. Presenting Your Business In a highly competitive market, distinguishing your business from the rest can go a long way in ensuring your success. Whether you are providing web hosting services for small business or a large corporation, how you brand yourself will have a lot of impact on your business. Presenting a credible & professional company with social media accounts and relevant industry certifications will ensure that your potential clients perceive your company as trustworthy. Even though there are quite a few things to consider before making the decision of offering web hosting to your customers, it will prove worthy for your business in the long-run. You can grow your existing business, promote your other products & services, and ensure more recognition for your brand. On the other hand, the most challenging aspect of offering web hosting service is to get clients regularly. However, that is something which is seen mostly in new businesses irrespective of the industry, and you should start getting clients over time. Despite the competition, there are ample opportunities for companies offering web hosting services. If you can market your services and reach, in front of a potential customer, you can generate sufficient revenue by selling web hosting services. You can start small by purchasing a monthly Reseller Hosting plan and progress as your business grows. The key here is to buy a good Reseller Hosting plan that provides all the required features allowing you to focus on building your customer base and growing your web hosting business. .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post Things to Consider Before Offering Web Hosting to your Customers appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

A cost-effective and extensible testbed for transport protocol development

CloudFlare Blog -

This was originally published on Perf Planet's 2019 Web Performance Calendar. At Cloudflare, we develop protocols at multiple layers of the network stack. In the past, we focused on HTTP/1.1, HTTP/2, and TLS 1.3. Now, we are working on QUIC and HTTP/3, which are still in IETF draft, but gaining a lot of interest.QUIC is a secure and multiplexed transport protocol that aims to perform better than TCP under some network conditions. It is specified in a family of documents: a transport layer which specifies packet format and basic state machine, recovery and congestion control, security based on TLS 1.3, and an HTTP application layer mapping, which is now called HTTP/3.Let’s focus on the transport and recovery layer first. This layer provides a basis for what is sent on the wire (the packet binary format) and how we send it reliably. It includes how to open the connection, how to handshake a new secure session with the help of TLS, how to send data reliably and how to react when there is packet loss or reordering of packets. Also it includes flow control and congestion control to interact well with other transport protocols in the same network. With confidence in the basic transport and recovery layer,  we can take a look at higher application layers such as HTTP/3.To develop such a transport protocol, we need multiple stages of the development environment. Since this is a network protocol, it’s best to test in an actual physical network to see how works on the wire. We may start the development using localhost, but after some time we may want to send and receive packets with other hosts. We can build a lab with a couple of virtual machines, using Virtualbox, VMWare or even with Docker. We also have a local testing environment with a Linux VM. But sometimes these have a limited network (localhost only) or are noisy due to other processes in the same host or virtual machines.Next step is to have a test lab, typically an isolated network focused on protocol analysis only consisting of dedicated x86 hosts. Lab configuration is particularly important for testing various cases - there is no one-size-fits-all scenario for protocol testing. For example, EDGE is still running in production mobile networks but LTE is dominant and 5G deployment is in early stages. WiFi is very common these days. We want to test our protocol in all those environments. Of course, we can't buy every type of machine or have a very expensive network simulator for every type of environment, so using cheap hardware and an open source OS where we can configure similar environments is ideal.The QUIC Protocol Testing labThe goal of the QUIC testing lab is to aid transport layer protocol development. To develop a transport protocol we need to have a way to control our network environment and a way to get as many different types of debugging data as possible. Also we need to get metrics for comparison with other protocols in production.The QUIC Testing Lab has the following goals:Help with multiple transport protocol development: Developing a new transport layer requires many iterations, from building and validating packets as per protocol spec, to making sure everything works fine under moderate load, to very harsh conditions such as low bandwidth and high packet loss. We need a way to run tests with various network conditions reproducibly in order to catch unexpected issues.Debugging multiple transport protocol development: Recording as much debugging info as we can is important for fixing bugs. Looking into packet captures definitely helps but we also need a detailed debugging log of the server and client to understand the what and why for each packet. For example, when a packet is sent, we want to know why. Is this because there is an application which wants to send some data? Or is this a retransmit of data previously known as lost? Or is this a loss probe which is not an actual packet loss but sent to see if the network is lossy?Performance comparison between each protocol: We want to understand the performance of a new protocol by comparison with existing protocols such as TCP, or with a previous version of the protocol under development. Also we want to test with varying parameters such as changing the congestion control mechanism, changing various timeouts, or changing the buffer sizes at various levels of the stack.Finding a bottleneck or errors easily: Running tests we may see an unexpected error - a transfer that timed out, or ended with an error, or a transfer was corrupted at the client side - each test needs to make sure every test is run correctly, by using a checksum of the original file to compare with what is actually downloaded, or by checking various error codes at the protocol of API level.When we have a test lab with separate hardware, we have benefits, as follows:Can configure the testing lab without public Internet access - safe and quiet.Handy access to hardware and its console for maintenance purpose, or for adding or updating hardware.Try other CPU architectures. For clients we use the Raspberry Pi for regular testing because this is ARM architecture (32bit or 64bit), similar to modern smartphones. So testing with ARM architecture helps for compatibility testing before going into a smartphone OS.We can add a real smartphone for testing, such as Android or iPhone. We can test with WiFi but these devices also support Ethernet, so we can test them with a wired network for better consistency.Lab ConfigurationHere is a diagram of our QUIC Protocol Testing Lab:This is a conceptual diagram and we need to configure a switch for connecting each machine. Currently, we have Raspberry Pis (2 and 3) as an Origin and a Client. And small Intel x86 boxes for the Traffic Shaper and Edge server plus Ethernet switches for interconnectivity.Origin is simply serving HTTP and HTTPS test objects using a web server. Client may download a file from Origin directly to simulate a download direct from a customer's origin server.Client will download a test object from Origin or Edge, using a different protocol. In typical a configuration Client connects to Edge instead of Origin, so this is to simulate an edge server in the real world. For TCP/HTTP we are using the curl command line client and for QUIC, quiche’s http3_client with some modification.Edge is running Cloudflare's web server to serve HTTP/HTTPS via TCP and also the QUIC protocol using quiche. Edge server is installed with the same Linux kernel used on Cloudflare's production machines in order to have the same low level network stack.Traffic Shaper is sitting between Client and Edge (and Origin), controlling network conditions. Currently we are using FreeBSD and ipfw + dummynet. Traffic shaping can also be done using Linux' netem which provides additional network simulation features. The goal is to run tests with various network conditions, such as bandwidth, latency and packet loss upstream and downstream. The lab is able to run a plaintext HTTP test but currently our focus of testing is HTTPS over TCP and HTTP/3 over QUIC. Since QUIC is running over UDP, both TCP and UDP traffic need to be controlled.Test Automation and VisualizationIn the lab, we have a script installed in Client, which can run a batch of testing with various configuration parameters - for each test combination, we can define a test configuration, including:Network Condition - Bandwidth, Latency, Packet Loss (upstream and downstream)For example using netem traffic shaper we can simulate LTE network as below,(RTT=50ms, BW=22Mbps upstream and downstream, with BDP queue size)$ tc qdisc add dev eth0 root handle 1:0 netem delay 25ms $ tc qdisc add dev eth0 parent 1:1 handle 10: tbf rate 22mbit buffer 68750 limit 70000 Test Object sizes - 1KB, 8KB, … 32MBTest Protocols: HTTPS (TCP) and QUIC (UDP)Number of runs and number of requests in a single connectionThe test script outputs a CSV file of results for importing into other tools for data processing and visualization - such as Google Sheets, Excel or even a jupyter notebook. Also it’s able to post the result to a database (Clickhouse in our case), so we can query and visualize the results.Sometimes a whole test combination takes a long time - the current standard test set with simulated 2G, 3G, LTE, WiFi and various object sizes repeated 10 times for each request may take several hours to run. Large object testing on a slow network takes most of the time, so sometimes we also need to run a limited test (e.g. testing LTE-like conditions only for a sanity check) for quick debugging.Chart using Google Sheets:The following comparison chart shows the total transfer time in msec for TCP vs QUIC for different network conditions. The QUIC protocol used here is a development version one.Debugging and performance analysis using of a smartphoneMobile devices have become a crucial part of our day to day life, so testing the new transport protocol on mobile devices is critically important for mobile app performance. To facilitate that, we need to have a mobile test app which will proxy data over the new transport protocol under development. With this we have the ability to analyze protocol functionality and performance in mobile devices with different network conditions.Adding a smartphone to the testbed mentioned above gives an advantage in terms of understanding real performance issues. The major smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android, have quite different networking stack. Adding a smartphone to testbed gives the ability to understand these operating system network stacks in depth which aides new protocol designs.The above figure shows the network block diagram of another similar lab testbed used for protocol testing where a smartphone is connected both wired and wirelessly. A Linux netem based traffic shaper sits in-between the client and server shaping the traffic. Various networking profiles are fed to the traffic shaper to mimic real world scenarios. The client can be either an Android or iOS based smartphone, the server is a vanilla web server serving static files. Client, server and traffic shaper are all connected to the Internet along with the private lab network for management purposes.The above lab has mobile devices for both Android or iOS  installed with a test app built with a proprietary client proxy software for proxying data over the new transport protocol under development. The test app also has the ability to make HTTP requests over TCP for comparison purposes. The Android or iOS test app can be used to issue multiple HTTPS requests of different object sizes sequentially and concurrently using TCP and QUIC as underlying transport protocol. Later, TTOTAL (total transfer time) of each HTTPS request is used to compare TCP and QUIC performance over different network conditions. One such comparison is shown below,The table above shows the total transfer time taken for TCP and QUIC requests over an LTE network profile fetching different objects with different concurrency levels using the test app. Here TCP goes over native OS network stack and QUIC goes over Cloudflare QUIC stack.Debugging network performance issues is hard when it comes to mobile devices. By adding an actual smartphone into the testbed itself we have the ability to take packet captures at different layers. These are very critical in analyzing and understanding protocol performance.It's easy and straightforward to capture packets and analyze them using the tcpdump tool on x86 boxes, but it's a challenge to capture packets on iOS and Android devices. On iOS device ‘rvictl’ lets us capture packets on an external interface. But ‘rvictl’ has some drawbacks such as timestamps being inaccurate. Since we are dealing with millisecond level events, timestamps need to be accurate to analyze the root cause of a problem.We can capture packets on internal loopback interfaces on jailbroken iPhones and rooted Android devices. Jailbreaking a recent iOS device is nontrivial. We also need to make sure that autoupdate of any sort is disabled on such a phone otherwise it would disable the jailbreak and you have to start the whole process again. With a jailbroken phone we have root access to the device which lets us take packet captures as needed using tcpdump.Packet captures taken using jailbroken iOS devices or rooted Android devices connected to the lab testbed help us analyze  performance bottlenecks and improve protocol performance.iOS and Android devices different network stacks in their core operating systems. These packet captures also help us understand the network stack of these mobile devices, for example in iOS devices packets punted through loopback interface had a mysterious delay of 5 to 7ms.ConclusionCloudflare is actively involved in helping to drive forward the QUIC and HTTP/3 standards by testing and optimizing these new protocols in simulated real world environments. By simulating a wide variety of networks we are working on our mission of Helping Build a Better Internet. For everyone, everywhere.Would like to thank SangJo Lee, Hiren Panchasara, Lucas Pardue and Sreeni Tellakula for their contributions.

12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business

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Capturing new customers in your local market can be a challenge. Not only can people be set in their ways and routines, but local marketing channels can also be expensive and scarce. This means that creativity is a must when developing a strategy to promote your local business. The good news is that there are lots of ways business owners can maximize both high-tech and low-tech options to promote their business. What’s more, local promotion doesn’t have to break the bank! Understanding where you’re most likely to find success with your customers will be the key to success in this area. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive list of ways to promote your local business. We’ll also take a quick look at what the statistics say about marketing locally. Let’s get started! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Why Your Local Business Needs a Marketing Strategy Succeeding in the local business market can be tough, so having a solid marketing strategy is vital for building up your revenue and clientele. When small businesses succeed, it’s good for everyone. In fact, small and local businesses have a huge impact on the national economy and employment rates. In that regard, it’s important to understand the local business landscape when it comes to online search and customer habits. For example, it’s useful to know that online reviews definitely matter in this business category. In a recent survey, 82% of consumers said they read online reviews before visiting a local business. This means you’ll want to focus on tools that will help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Additionally, it’s smart to encourage customers to leave positive reviews for others to see. Of course, this is just one digital marketing strategy. Throughout the rest of this post, we’ll look at others marketing ideas — such as leveraging tools like online listings, getting involved in your local community, improving customer care, leveraging social media platforms, creating blog content, and more. Related: 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Your Small Business How to Promote Your Local Business With These 12 Marketing Tactics Promoting your local business effectively can require a multifaceted approach. This list of 12 marketing ideas will give you a place to start. 1. Tidy Up Your Online Listings for Greater Visibility Creating a free online listing for your local business can be the most effective way to get its information out there. An online listing is essentially any place you can list your business and its relevant information for potential customers to see. With options such as Yelp and Google My Business, you can make sure the right information about your business is on the web. Getting started with the latter platform simply requires you to search for and claim your business. Your account is free and enables you to manage all of your information on Google. Therefore, it’s vital to keep these details up to date. Related: 7 Steps to Identify a Target Audience for Your Online Business 2. Revamp Your Website or Start a Blog to Engage Customers If you’re looking for new ways to engage with customers online, revamping your website and starting a blog are both worthwhile approaches. WordPress is an ideal platform for doing this, as it is both beginner-friendly and flexible. If you’re looking to make over your site or begin blogging about your business, we can’t recommend WordPress enough. To help you customize your site, you’ll find themes and plugins for all niches. Of course, to get started with a website for your business, you’ll also need a reliable web host and some interesting content to promote your shop! Related: Keep Your Content Fresh: How to Repurpose Old Blog Posts 3. Work on Your Local SEO Tactics to Boost Search Visibility It’s been shown that local search has the highest conversion rates of all local advertising channels. This means that it’s important to fine-tune your site so it ranks well on every major search engine. We mentioned Google My Business previously, but it comes into play here as well. Some of your local SEO work can be done through that platform. You’ll want to aim for becoming a listing in the “3-pack.” This is the list of three businesses that appear under the Google map in a search with local intent. Another way to boost your local SEO is to build up as many local citations as you can. A citation is anywhere online that your business’ name, address, phone number, and website URL appears. Related: 4. Launch a Mobile App to Boost User Engagement Mobile internet usage accounted for nearly half of all web traffic early in 2019, and researchers predict that it will continue to rise. With that being said, it makes sense to create a way to engage with your customers on their mobile devices. If you have the resources to hire a programmer, that’s the simplest solution. However, there are other ways to create an app that don’t require too much technical know-how. Apps can include handy features such as loyalty rewards, coupons, business news, and more. 5. Run a Contest to Keep Users Engaged and Interested Everyone loves to win stuff. That’s why running a contest can help you draw in customers. Whether you run your contest online (via social media or your website) or directly in your store, it’s something your audience is highly likely to share. What’s more, online, users are 99% more likely to share a contest with others if it improves their chances of winning. You could invite your customers to help you design a new logo or a piece of branded gear. Running a contest in your physical store can be as simple as collecting business cards for a monthly drawing or highlighting a customer of the month. Either way, this is a fun and popular option that’s great for any kind of local business. 6. Form Local Partnerships With Influential People Collaboration can be the key to success in many business situations. If your community has a need that your business can help meet, why not partner up? Joining forces with organizations or even other businesses will show customers that you’re community-minded and trustworthy. Just as influencers make an impact on social media marketing, you can use your local influencers in the same way, whether they are online or in-person. This might include inviting them to host an event at your business, or asking them to endorse your product. Word-of-mouth marketing works! 7. Host an Event to Benefit the Area Local company owners have the unique opportunity to use their businesses for the good of the community. Not only can you add to the local economy, but you can leverage your brand to help raise funds or otherwise benefit your area. When implementing this strategy, you’ll want to choose a cause that aligns with your brand practices and values. If you can partner with a local organization, that’s even better! In fact, hosting an event in your shop or organizing a volunteer day to help out in your community are all ways you can be philanthropic while also promoting your business. 8. Get Involved in the Community by Joining Chamber Groups Almost every community has a local chamber of commerce. These groups are designed to help support the growth of local businesses and joining them is a highly-recommended practice to build brand awareness. Checking your local chamber benefits is a good first step. As a member of your chamber of commerce, your community will see you as a trusted member of the local economy. Second, most local chambers offer a number of discounts to helpful resources for local businesses (such as printing and marketing services). Additionally, you can offer discounts to chamber members to encourage support of your business. 9. Build Up a Newsletter and Subscriber List for Enhanced Communication An email list is a valuable tool for keeping your customers updated and engaged. You don’t want to overdo it, but regular communication with your customers can lead to valuable word-of-mouth recommendations. You can use both online and in-store techniques to attract subscribers. There are many tools available for building your newsletter and email lists. If you don’t have a branded, custom email for your business, that’s also a smart step to take before you start sending out messages. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 10. Encourage Loyal Customers with a Rewards Program Loyalty programs are a common option for many small and local businesses. It builds good connections with customers when you’re able to offer rewards for their loyalty. There are plenty of examples out there to work from, such as Dunkin’s “DDPerks” program. Whether you create an app for loyalty rewards or simply print punch cards, your customers should appreciate the gesture. In fact, 69% of consumers report that their choice of retailer is impacted by where they can get the best rewards. Businesses also report that even a 5% increase in customer loyalty can have a big impact on their annual profits. Related: How to Create a Loyalty Program for Your Website (And Why You Should) 11. Maintain Regulars With Improved Customer Service When you are a frequent patron of a business, it’s likely due in part to the way you’re treated. If you employ staff at your local business, it might be worthwhile to tackle your overall customer service as a group and establish some goals and norms. Holding a training session and providing professional development materials for your employees are two ways you can start building a culture of customer care. Additionally, you can involve your customers in the process by asking them for feedback or creating a recognition program for your employees. 12. Offer Seasonal or Themed Discounts to Boost Sales Shoppers tend to be creatures of habit. So you can take advantage of many holiday-related and seasonal opportunities throughout the year. This might mean getting creative and hosting a Christmas in July sale or latching onto fun, quirky occasions such as “Pi Day.” This enables you to promote your business outside of run-of-the-mill shopping holidays. You can appeal to bargain shoppers, and keep sales up during the times of year when you might otherwise see a dip in profits. Small Business Marketing Made Simple Mastering the skills needed to effectively promote your local business can take effort. However, there are many ways small business owners can get creative and engage with regional customers. Mixing and matching the items on this list can help you build the perfect toolbox of local promotion techniques. Above all, remember to tidy up your online listings and create a Google My Business account, brush up on your customer service, and connect with your community through events and partnerships. All of these strategies can help boost those vital online customer reviews for your brand. Related: Word of Mouth — Why Customer Testimonials Work If you’re looking for more ways to grow your business, we’ve got you covered! Check out these helpful posts for tips and tricks to get your local business on the map. The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Your Website and Increasing Traffic Need to Warm Up Your Website? Try a New Marketing Strategy (9 Ideas) 10 Marketing Ideas to Make Your Site Merry and Bright What Makes a Great Marketing Campaign? 15 Examples Are you ready for a big rush on your local business? Implementing these promotional techniques and showcasing your hard work with a professionally-hosted website should have customers lining up down the street! The post 12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

What Is WooCommerce?

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The post What Is WooCommerce? appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you’re just getting started building an eCommerce store, you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from.  One of the options you’ve probably come across is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress that can transform any WordPress website into a full-fledged eCommerce store.  It’s flexible, beginner-friendly, and widely used as well. But, when you’re creating an eCommerce store, you want to know that you’re using the best platform for you. Below we dive into what WooCommerce is, how it began, and how it became so popular. Then, we’ll show you how to get started using WooCommerce for your own website. What is WooCommerce? At the core, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that can transform an existing WordPress website into a true eCommerce store. All it takes is a couple of clicks. Essentially, WooCommerce builds upon the initial capabilities of WordPress and adds eCommerce functionality.  WooCommerce allows you to sell anything on your website. It’s primarily used to sell physical products, like jewelry, coffee, t-shirts, beard oils, and basically anything else under the sun. However, it doesn’t end there, you can use WooCommerce to sell digital products as well. You can sell eBooks, courses, and even allow people to book appointments or make reservations. Whatever you’re looking to sell through your website, WooCommerce can help you do it easily. Here are a few reasons why the use of WooCommerce is so widespread: It’s entirely free to install on your site, just like WordPress.It’s also open-source, like WordPress, so you’ll find a massive library of free themes, add-ons, and more.It’s straightforward to use and built with complete beginners in mind.You have control over the final design, via a full library of WooCommerce themes.Your store is mobile-friendly right out of the box, so it will look and perform great no matter what devices your visitors are using to shop.You can add a ton of different features via the plugin library, just like how you usually add features to a standard WordPress site.  All in all, WooCommerce operates in a very similar fashion to WordPress, which makes sense since the same company, Automattic, runs it. We dive deeper into the origins of WooCommerce below. The History of WooCommerce: WooCommerce and WordPress The origins of WooCommerce started with a company called WooThemes, a premium WordPress theme company, founded by Mark Forrester, Magnus Jepson, and Adii Pienaar. They achieved success with a handful of their premium themes. But things were about to change quickly when they brought on two developers, James Koster and Mike Jolley. They were working on a previous eCommerce software known as Jigoshop. Once the company was sold, they got to work on WooCommerce.  The first version of WooCommerce was launched in 2011, and it only took two years to achieve 1 million downloads! In 2015, WooCommerce was purchased by Automattic, the same team that’s behind WordPress. Since acquiring WooCommerce, Automattic has become the leading developer of WooCommerce. In that same year, the plugin surged to over 7 million downloads and powering over 30% of eCommerce stores online. Today WooCommerce remains one of the most popular and most flexible eCommerce tools in the world.  Why Is WooCommerce So Widely Used? Part of the reason WooCommerce is so popular is due to its ties to WordPress. With WordPress powering over one-third of the internet, there’s only one logical solution when you want to start selling products via your existing site–WooCommerce. When comparing WooCommerce against other eCommerce platforms, there are some serious advantages as well: There are thousands of paid and free themes, making it suitable for a large number of websites.You’ll find over 500 extensions, and thousands of plugins, that let you add new features to your store. It’s hard to find a more flexible eCommerce solution. Especially considering that you can accomplish a lot with WooCommerce entirely for free. All you need to do is invest in a domain name and hosting, and you can build a feature-rich eCommerce store without spending any other money.  The Benefits of WooCommerce There are a lot of advantages to choosing WooCommerce as your eCommerce store platform. Here are the biggest benefits to using WooCommerce: 1. It’s Easy to Setup and Install on Your Site If you’ve ever installed a plugin on your WordPress site, then you can install and setup WooCommerce. You can download and install WooCommerce directly from your WordPress dashboard, or via the plugin directory. Once you install and activate the plugin, you’ll be greeted with a setup wizard. This will walk you through a series of questions about your website and configure your store accordingly.  Other things, like the design of your store, are handled by your theme, which will be a similar process to how you set up your WordPress theme.  2. It’s Equipped With Nearly All the Features You Need Right out of the box, WooCommerce is equipped with all the features you need to run a successful store. For example, here’s a quick look at some of the features it comes with: You can sell any product you like, whether that’s physical or digitalYou can add multiple product attributes, tags, categories and more to each featureYou can add product reviews and star ratings to your productsYou can let your customers filter your store by type of product, overall popularity, star rating, and moreYou can integrate your store with multiple different payment providers like PayPal, Stripe, credits cards, and moreYou can quickly customize the layout of your storefront with the near unlimited selection of themesYou can quickly add whatever feature you desire via the extension marketplace or plugin library 3. It’s Flexible and Scalable Even though WooCommerce is a plugin in and of itself, there are thousands of extensions and plugins that will enhance the functionality even further. This means that you can create an online store that functions precisely how you’d like it to.  There are all kinds of official WooCommerce extensions available from the WooCommerce website, both free and premium. You’ll get access to improved marketing tools, store management features, payment options, shipping, and a lot more. Your other option is to explore the WordPress plugin marketplace, even a simple search for “WooCommerce” will bring us results like this: 4. The Shopping Cart is Feature-Packed The actual checkout process is an incredibly important part of running a successful online shop. A lot of your visitors will actually abandon their carts during checkout, so you’ll want to do everything possible to make this experience as seamless as possible. Think about how easy it is to buy products from Amazon. All it takes is literally a couple of clicks, and the product is on its way to your door. WooCommerce gives you a ton of different options to customize your shopping cart.  For example, here are a few different shopping cart features included right out of the box: Add a multitude of different payment gateways including, PayPal, Stripe, credit cards, and even cash or checkEnable geolocation to calculate taxes based upon the location of your visitor automaticallyCheckout customization options like choosing the countries you’ll sell too, allow guests to checkout without creating an account, forcing a secure checkout and moreRedirect your visitors to their cart once a product is added 5. Packed With a Ton of Product Options Selling products online is a different experience than selling in person. When people go into a store to purchase products, they can actually see the item and how it looks and functions. When you’re online, the only thing your visitors have to go by is your images, description, and maybe a product video. As a result, you’ll want the ability to custom tailor each product listing, so you can give your shoppers all the information required to make an informed purchase. Here are some product features you’ll have access to right out of the box: You can add as many products as you’d like to your store, your only limits are your existing hosting accountYou can add as many product types as you’d like as well, whether that’s digital, physical, eBooks, product packages, and moreYou’ll have near unlimited product variations as well, from sizes, colors, images, discount pricing, and more WooCommerce also makes it easy to manage your product inventory. You’ll receive email notifications when a product is running out of stock or is currently on backorder.  6. Multiple Shipping Options Come Built-In With an eCommerce tool, you not only want something that makes selling easy but also shipping products to your customers. Fast and secure shipping not only makes your customers happy, but it makes your life a lot easier as well. With WooCommerce, there are a ton of different shipping options built-in. For example, you can let your customers choose from international shipping, flat rate, local delivery, or even local pickup. There’s an automated shipping calculator built-in, or you can also offer your customers free shipping if it makes sense for your bottom line.  You even have the ability to hide the shipping rate until your customer enters their address, and even let your customers enter a separate shipping address. Plus, with the myriad of extensions available, you can add even more options, like automated tracking, upsells after checkout, and more.  How Do You Use WooCommerce? If you’ve used WordPress before, then installing and setting up WooCommerce is going to be a breeze. Here’s all you need to get started with WooCommerce: A hosting account and a domain name for your storeWordPress installed on your websiteA WordPress theme that’s compatible with WooCommerceThe WooCommerce plugin 1. Get Hosting and a Domain The first thing you’ll need is a hosting account and a domain name. If you’re starting fresh, then you can secure both of these here at HostGator. Head over to our WordPress hosting page and choose your plan: On the next screen you’ll be able to add a free domain name to your order. If the domain you like isn’t available, then keep searching until you find the perfect domain. Once you’ve completed your order it’s time to move onto the next step. 2. Install WordPress Installing WordPress on your new site will only take a couple of clicks. Navigate to your hosting control panel and click on ‘Build a New WordPress Site’. The installer will run and you’ll need to enter information about your website. Fill out the information that looks similar to the image below and click ‘Install’. 3. Choose Your WordPress Theme With WordPress installed it’s time to install a WooCommerce-friendly theme. If you’re unsure of what theme to install you can always start with Storefront. This is a free theme that was created by the WooCommerce team. To install this theme login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance>Themes, then search for Storefront. Click Install, and then Activate, and you’ll now have a WooCommerce ready theme as the face of your site.  4. Install WooCommerce Finally, it’s time to install WooCommerce. Since it’s a free plugin, this is very easy to do. Navigate to Plugins>Add New, then search for “WooCommerce”. Then, click ‘Install Now’, and ‘Activate’ to enable WooCommerce on your site. Once the plugin is installed and activated, you’ll have a new ‘WooCommerce’ tab on the left-hand side of the site.  This is where you’ll be able to manage orders, adjust your store settings, browse the extension library and more. Once WooCommerce is installed it will also automatically create new site pages, like your Checkout page, Cart page, and more. You can edit these pages by navigating to ‘Pages’ on the left-hand sidebar of your dashboard.  By now you should have a deeper understanding of WooCommerce, how it came to be, why it’s an incredible platform for your new store, and finally how to get started with WooCommerce today.  If you want to build a successful WooCommerce store, then you’re going to need a quality host behind you. If you demand performance and scalability, then check out our WordPress managed hosting today.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Getting Ready for De{Code} 2020

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Developers of all skill levels share a common trait—they’re always trying to get better at their craft and learn more. This is especially true in the WordPress community, where the open source values of collaboration, transparency, and ongoing education continue to make WordPress such a powerful tool for building amazing digital experiences. Those values were… The post Getting Ready for De{Code} 2020 appeared first on WP Engine.

WP Engine: 2019 in Review

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At WP Engine, we’re inspired by each and every one of our customers, and we’re committed to providing you with the best platform for your business. As we enter the new year laser-focused on that mission, take a look below as we unpack the past year and explore the highlights that helped you build your… The post WP Engine: 2019 in Review appeared first on WP Engine.

How to Set Up Your Blog on WordPress [Step-by-Step Guide]

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The post How to Set Up Your Blog on WordPress [Step-by-Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. WordPress is built for blogging. If you want to build a content-heavy website, then this CMS is going to be your best friend.  Even though WordPress is commonly used to build large-scale websites, it’s very user-friendly and can be used to create a blog in record time.  WordPress makes setting up a blog incredibly easy. After all, it was initially created as a blogging platform, and it hasn’t lost its roots.  Below you’ll learn the ins and outs of setting up your blog on WordPress.  Even if you’re a complete beginner and you’ve never even thought about building a website before, then this post is for you. We’re starting entirely from scratch and leaving no stone unturned, by the end of this post you’ll have a functional WordPress site, ready to publish your first post. 1. The Foundation: Domain, Hosting, and WordPress.org Before you start building your blog, there are a few things you’ll need to have in place: namely, a domain and hosting. Without these two things, there’s nowhere to install WordPress and have a website that lives on the internet. To keep things simple, your domain name is what people will type into the address bar to access your website. While your host is where you’ll store your website’s files. When someone types your domain name into the address bar, their web browser communicates with the server and displays your website’s files. In this case, those files will be your WordPress blog! Before we move forward, let’s clear up a little confusion surrounding WordPress. When you start researching WordPress, you’ll see that there are two different versions of WordPress. The first is WordPress.org and the second is WordPress.com. WordPress.com is hosted, meaning you can sign up for a free website and host is using their platform. Your domain will look like this “yourdomain.wordpress.com.” The second option (which is the one we’ll be using), is WordPress.org. This is the self-hosted version of WordPress. So, you’re responsible for your domain name and your hosting account. Although using this version of WordPress seems more technical, it gives you significantly more freedom and control over your site. This is the approach to take if you’re serious about building your website, and want control over your platform and the success of your site.  With that being said, let’s pick up a domain name and hosting account. Luckily, you can do that right here at HostGator; it’ll only take you a few minutes. First, head over to the HostGator Managed WordPress Hosting page. You’ll see that there are a ton of different packages to choose from: Generally, it’s a better idea to go with the Standard or the Business plan, as these plans give you the freedom to add more domains to your hosting account and also come equipped with more advanced features. Once you’ve decided on your plan, click on the ‘Buy Now!’ button. On this next screen, you’ll be able to add a domain to your order. The domain search feature is built into the signup page, so the tool will perform a search on any domain you enter and show you which domain name extensions are available. Once you’ve found the perfect domain, then you can enter your payment information to complete your purchase and officially register it!  After you’ve finished signing up, you’ll receive an email from HostGator that contains your cPanel link. This control panel is what we’ll be using to install WordPress, so keep an eye out for this email before you proceed with the next step.  2. Install WordPress on Your Site With the HostGator control panel, you can accomplish all kinds of wonderful things, but for our purposes, we’re going to be using it to install WordPress.  Luckily, some tools make this process as simple as clicking a few buttons. To install WordPress, click on the control panel link you received in your welcome email, then enter your username and password. Your control panel should look similar to the image below: You can install WordPress quickly by clicking on the ‘Build a New WordPress Site’ icon. Alternatively, scroll down to the ‘Software’ section and click on the application titled ‘QuickInstall’. For the sake of this tutorial we’re going to be taking the simplest approach and clicking on the ‘Build a New WordPress Site’ application.  On this screen, you’ll select the domain name you want to install WordPress and click ‘Next.’ On the next page, enter the name of your blog, the admin username, admin email, and your first name. The admin email is essential as this is where your WordPress login information will be sent to. Once the installation is complete, you’ll be directed to a confirmation screen. Your login details will be on this screen, and they’ll also be emailed to you. Make sure you keep these in a secure place, as we’ll need these to finish setting up your site.  3. Choose and Customize Your WordPress Theme  Now you have the foundation laid. Your domain and hosting are purchased, and WordPress is installed on your site. But, you can’t start customizing your site just yet, to do that you’ll need to install a WordPress theme. Themes are how WordPress handles site customization and adding new features to your site.  To install a new theme on your site, we’re going to first login to your WordPress dashboard. To do this, you’ll be using a link that looks something like ‘mywebsite.com/wp-admin.’ On this screen you’ll enter your username and password, and click ‘Login.’ This will bring you to your WordPress dashboard, which will be your home base for customizing your site. It’ll look more or less like the image below: By default, our site will be using a basic WordPress theme, but you’ll probably want to change this out to a theme that better suits your site. To do this navigate to Appearance>Themes on your left-hand navigation bar, then click ‘Add New.’ On the next screen, you’ll be able to choose between thousands of different free themes available from the WordPress themes repository. You can sort themes via popularity, publish date, or even use the feature filter, or search for a specific name or keyword. We’re going to filter by most popular and see what kind of themes are available. After a little scrolling, we found the ‘Escapade’ theme. This travel blog theme is perfect for an aspiring travel blogger. Once you’ve found a theme you like, you can click the ‘Preview’ button to get an idea for what the theme will look like, or go for it and click ‘Install.’  Once you click ‘Install’ WordPress will install the theme for you, all you have to do is click the ‘Activate’ button once the installer is complete.  Now, this theme will be the new face of your WordPress blog. You can further customize your site by navigating to Appearance>Customize. Here you’ll get a series of customization options like changing your site color scheme, adding a background image, changing your logo, and a lot more. The customization options you have will depend on the theme that you installed.  Feel free to spend time playing around with the Customization menu until you have a blog design that you’re happy with.  Create a Site Menu for Your WordPress Blog To make site navigation easier, you’re going to need to create a site navigation menu. Your theme might have already created a basic menu for your site. But, if not, here’s how you get to your menu section and create a new menu. Within your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Appearance>Menus.  On this screen, you’ll be able to create new menu items, rearrange your menus, choose from existing pages, and assign your menus to different locations on your site.  Add New Pages to Your WordPress Blog WordPress treats your pages in a similar fashion to your posts. But, in our case, our pages will be things like our home page, about page, contact page, and more. Almost every kind of website will need these standard pages. They might have come pre-created when WordPress was installed. But, if not, then you’ll want to create these yourself. To do this navigate to Pages>Add New.  Then, once you’re satisfied with your page, click ‘Publish’ and you’re good to go.  To manage all of your website pages and see which ones you’ve published you can navigate to Pages>All Pages, and this will give you a list of every page you’ve created so far: As you can see from the image above, there are duplicate pages that can be deleted.  Customize Your WordPress Sidebar One of the final things we’ll want to customize is our sidebar. This is the space to the right of your text, and it’s common across a lot of popular blogs. In this area you’ll typically showcase your recent posts, insert an email sign up box, include advertising space, and more. We’ll customize this area with what’s known as widgets. These are drag and drop sections of code that add new features to our sidebar. Navigate over to Appearance>Widgets, and you’ll see a screen like the one below.  Then, on the ‘Primary Sidebar’ section we can drag widgets from the left-hand side, into the ‘Primary Sidebar’ box. You can add things like image galleries, recent posts, a search bar, custom text, and a lot more.  This Widget section is also how you’ll customize other widgetized aspects of your theme, like your footer section, certain home page sections, and more. When you install certain WordPress plugins sometimes they’ll add a widget to this area as well.  4. Add New Blog Features with WordPress Plugins  With your navigation menu created, and your initial pages created, it’s time to add a few must-have WordPress plugins.  Plugins are how WordPress handles site customizations. This allows you to add new features like social sharing buttons, speed optimization features, image sliders, SEO optimization, and a lot more.  To add new plugins to your blog, navigate to Plugins>Add New. Here you can browse through popular plugins, search via keyword, or even install from the list of recommended plugins. With thousands of different WordPress plugins to choose from, the search can get a little overwhelming, but the resources below are a great place to start: The Top 15 Most Popular WordPress PluginsThe Best WordPress Plugins Every Blog Needs Once you’ve found a plugin that you want to install, hover over the plugin and click ‘Install Now,’ then ‘Activate.’  5. Publish Your First Blog Post on WordPress You’ve finally made it; it’s time to publish your first blog post! As you’ll soon learn, this is very easy to do. From your WordPress dashboard, click on Posts>Add New. This will bring us to a new screen where we can write out our new blog. Underneath the title all you have to do is click to start writing. If you want to add additional media to your blog post you can do that by hovering over the section below your sentence and selecting the ‘Add Image’ icon: Now, you can upload an image from your computer, select an image you previously uploaded, or insert an image from a URL. With the content block feature, you can add image galleries, new headings, and a lot more.  Once you’re satisfied with your post, all you have to do is click ‘Publish…’ in the upper right-hand corner of your editor: Now your first blog will be live for the world to read! If you ever want to see all of the posts you’ve written, or delete certain posts, then navigate to Posts>All Posts.  Just click on the headline and you’ll be able to open and edit your blog posts. From this screen you’ll also have the option to delete multiple posts at the same time.   By now you have a super solid foundation. Your site is setup, has some basic functionality, and you’re working on your first post. Your blogging dreams are one step closer to coming true.  Now it’s time to get to writing and make your blog a success! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Helping mitigate the Citrix NetScaler CVE with Cloudflare Access

CloudFlare Blog -

Yesterday, Citrix sent an updated notification to customers warning of a vulnerability in their Application Delivery Controller (ADC) product. If exploited, malicious attackers can bypass the login page of the administrator portal, without authentication, to perform arbitrary code execution.No patch is available yet. Citrix expects to have a fix for certain versions on January 20 and others at the end of the month.In the interim, Citrix has asked customers to attempt to mitigate the vulnerability. The recommended steps involve running a number of commands from an administrator command line interface.The vulnerability relied on by attackers requires that they first be able to reach a login portal hosted by the ADC. Cloudflare can help teams secure that page and the resources protected by the ADC. Teams can place the login page, as well as the administration interface, behind Cloudflare Access’ identity proxy to prevent unauthenticated users from making requests to the portal.Exploiting URL pathsCitrix ADC, also known as Citrix NetScaler, is an application delivery controller that provides Layer 3 through Layer 7 security for applications and APIs. Once deployed, administrators manage the installation of the ADC through a portal available at a dedicated URL on a hostname they control.Users and administrators can reach the ADC interface over multiple protocols, but it appears that the vulnerability stems from HTTP paths that contain “/vpn/../vpns/” in the path via the VPN or AAA endpoints, from which a directory traversal exploit is possible.The suggested mitigation steps ask customers to run commands which enforce new responder policies for the ADC interface. Those policies return 403s when certain paths are requested, blocking unauthenticated users from reaching directories that sit behind the authentication flow.Protecting administrator portals with Cloudflare AccessTo exploit this vulnerability, attackers must first be able to reach a login portal hosted by the ADC. As part of a defense-in-depth strategy, Cloudflare Access can prevent attackers from ever reaching the panel over HTTP or SSH.Cloudflare Access, part of Cloudflare for Teams, protects internally managed resources by checking each request for identity and permission. When administrators secure an application behind Access, any request to the hostname of that application stops at Cloudflare’s network first. Once there, Cloudflare Access checks the request against the list of users who have permission to reach the application.Deploying Access does not require exposing new holes in corporate firewalls. Teams connect their resources through a secure outbound connection, Argo Tunnel, which runs in your infrastructure to connect the applications and machines to Cloudflare. That tunnel makes outbound-only calls to the Cloudflare network and organizations can replace complex firewall rules with just one: disable all inbound connections.To defend against attackers addressing IPs directly, Argo Tunnel can help secure the interface and force outbound requests through Cloudflare Access. With Argo Tunnel, and firewall rules preventing inbound traffic, no request can reach those IPs without first hitting Cloudflare, where Access can evaluate the request for authentication.Administrators then build rules to decide who should authenticate to and reach the tools protected by Access. Whether those resources are virtual machines powering business operations or internal web applications, like Jira or iManage, when a user needs to connect, they pass through Cloudflare first.When users need to connect to the tools behind Access, they are prompted to authenticate with their team’s SSO and, if valid, instantly connected to the application without being slowed down. Internally managed apps suddenly feel like SaaS products, and the login experience is seamless and familiar.Behind the scenes, every request made to those internal tools hits Cloudflare first where we enforce identity-based policies. Access evaluates and logs every request to those apps for identity, giving administrators more visibility and security than a traditional VPN.Cloudflare Access can also be bundled with the Cloudflare WAF, and WAF rules can be applied to guard against this as well. Adding Cloudflare Access, the Cloudflare WAF, and the mitigation commands from Citrix together provide layers of security while a patch is in development.How to get startedWe recommend that users of the Citrix ADC follow the mitigation steps recommended by Citrix. Cloudflare Access adds another layer of security by enforcing identity-based authentication for requests made over HTTP and SSH to the ADC interface. Together, these steps can help form a defense-in-depth strategy until a patch is released by Citrix.To get started, Citrix ADC users can place their ADC interface and exposed endpoints behind a bastion host secured by Cloudflare Access. On that bastion host, administrators can use Cloudflare Argo Tunnel to open outbound-only connections to Cloudflare through which HTTP and SSH requests can be proxied.Once deployed, users of the login portal can connect to the protected hostname. Cloudflare Access will prompt them to login with their identity provider and Cloudflare will validate the user against the rules created to control who can reach the interface. If authenticated and allowed, the user will be able to connect. No other requests will be able to reach the interface over HTTP or SSH without authentication.The first five seats of Cloudflare Access are free. Teams can sign up here to get started.

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