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The post How to Improve Your Online Store Navigation for a Better Customer Experience appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Want more customers to buy from you? Help them find what they’re looking for fast.
Today’s customers expect a frustration-free experience when they search for products in online stores. Sixty-five percent of them say finding stuff fast is their top priority when buying online. But many stores—even those with websites that cost millions to build—aren’t giving shoppers what they want.
The solution? Better site navigation and product search tools. Before you yawn, consider what the Baymard Institute learned when it tested user experience with the product listings and filtering functions on 19 eCommerce websites:
“Despite testing multimillion-dollar sites, more than 700 usability issues related to product lists, filtering and sorting, arose during testing.”
That’s an average of 37 ways to frustrate customers on each of the sites they tested.
And when customers get frustrated, they leave. Baymard’s testing found that eCommerce sites with “mediocre product list usability” had abandonment rates ranging from 67% to 90%.
However, sites that were just a little bit better at helping customers find what they wanted had much lower abandonment rates, ranging from 17% to 33%. This is good news for smaller online stores, because clearly, a huge budget doesn’t guarantee a good product search experience.
What do you need instead? A good understanding of how customers look for products in online stores now is the place to start. Then you’ll know if you need to reorganize your product categories and add new tools to your site.
How Online Shoppers Search on eCommerce Sites Today
Back in the olden days of the internet, product lists, menus and category tabs were the primary ways to find specific items. This was fine on a desktop, and there was a novelty factor to online shopping that made it kind of fun to see how categories and lists were set up.
Lists and categories are still useful, but a store that only offers those navigation tools is going to lose customers.
What changed? Smartphones, for one. Mobile screen sizes required an alternative to scrolling through sidebar lists and product filters. The other big change is that eCommerce companies like Amazon poured resources into developing new ways to search in their store, and customer expectations for speed and convenience have been rising ever since.
Shoppers now expect easy mobile site navigation. And some would rather use a search bar, voice search or a virtual shop assistant to find what they want. Here’s a quick example of how many ways customers can search a store now.
Every element at the top of Amazon’s mobile homepage offers a different way to search, including
a “hamburger” menu icon to browse categories.an Alexa icon to tell the virtual assistant to find what you’re looking for.a cart icon to see what’s already in your basket and what you’ve saved for later.a search bar that uses text or voice input and offers autocomplete suggestions, even if you misspell a word.a camera/code scanner icon for image and code searches.tabs for browsing popular categories.
Not every online store can offer all these options. But remember, even small improvements can keep more customers on your site. Let’s explore ways you can make your product search and navigation better.
Categories, Menus, Product Lists and Filters for Your Online Store
The product category tabs on your desktop site should guide your customers toward your most popular items as well as to your top-level product categories.
For example, Nordstrom’s category tabs include designer collections, sale items and brands even though those could be included as subcategories within the women, men and kids categories. But customers who like specific designers and brands, plus those who love deals, are more likely to shop if they can go right to the good stuff from the homepage.
The same principle applies to your category menus.
See how new markdowns are the top menu item for Sales subcategories? Nordstrom wants frequent bargain hunters to be able to check out fresh items fast.
If you have a lot of products, filters can help shoppers narrow their choices to a manageable number, although many customers now like to get relevant results faster in the search bar, which we’ll talk about below.
eCommerce platforms include basic navigation functions that let you set up categories and filters. But to help your customers find things faster, you may want to add layered navigation.
For example, WooCommerce’s Ajax-Enabled, Enhanced Layered Navigation extension gives you granular filter options like color swatches and size selections. Ajax Layered Navigation for Magento 2 lets you include an “add to wishlist” function on your menus. It also updates pages as shoppers apply filters without reloading the entire page, so customers can see their filtered results faster.
Search Bars on eCommerce Sites
Your store needs to have a search bar, but not just any search bar. WordPress offers one for its sites, but there are more feature-rich options available for eCommerce platforms.
Why upgrade from the built-in search function? Because customers say relevant results are the most important part of a store’s on-site search, according to a survey by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights. A search tool designed for your eCommerce platform can show customers what they’re looking for in ways a basic search can’t–and make them more likely to buy.
Features to look for in an on-site search tool are:
Autocomplete suggestions.Rich search results with product suggestions and thumbnail images.Compensation for misspellings.AI-driven personalized search results.
Magento 2 users may want to try Fast Simon’s free Instant Search +, which also automatically generates product filter options based on search queries. For WooCommerce users, the Advanced Woo Search Plugin from Illid offers similar features. Its pro version can display stock status in search results and lets shoppers add items to their cart from search results.
Chatbot Assistants for Product Search
A chatbot “shop assistant” can help your customers find the exact product they need from your store, or it can offer them options. For example, if you’re looking for a blue T-shirt, a good chatbot assistant can show you several options with links to their product pages. It can learn to recognize customers and their shopping preferences for more personalized service with each visit.
For WooCommerce users, the AcoBot AI Chatbot plugin for WordPress is an option worth trying. WP-Chatbot for Facebook Messenger is another option that works with multiple eCommerce platforms.
As you test out different options for improving your site navigation and search, remember to track your conversion and abandonment rates, and listen to customer feedback, so you can see which changes deliver the best results.
Want to learn more about improving customer experience in your store? Check out our 10-step guide to website usability testing.
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The post 5 Quick Website Updates You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less appeared first on HostGator Blog.
This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.
So you’re working from home now. The kids are finally busy working on a craft project and the barking dog fell asleep.
You’ve got less than an hour before the “you know what” hits the fan again. And you want to do something that can quickly move the needle for your business.
Here are 5 quick website updates you can make in 30 minutes or less.
Note: You can’t do all of these things in 30 minutes. But one task at a time, with 30 minutes at a time, you’ll get it done!
1. Update your business hours on your website & on Google My Business.
Maybe your city has gone on lock down that required your physical location to go on revised hours. Or maybe you’re temporarily closed on a week-by-week basis. Make sure your customers and clients know your new, current operating hours by updating your contact page.
Consider adding a “current as of X date” tag or a note that calls out “our current hours during COVID-19” so customers know they are truly seeing your current, updated hours.
You may also consider a call out banner on the homepage so your customers can easily find this information.
Next, update your temporary business hours on your Google My Business listing. This is important because it will populate the store listing that customers see when searching for your physical location on Google Maps app.
Recently I was out for a late night run to the local drug store and looked up the hours on Google Maps. The hours listed regular hours and then this week’s hours. Sweet! They’re still open 24 hours. I arrive, and JK, the store is closed and there’s a sign on the door with early closing hours. Super frustrating!
There are three ways you can update your business hours on Google My Business. Check out the “holiday hours” option.
2. Review & update your metadata.
Meta what? This is a search engine optimization thing. And we all need those positive SEO vibes right now.
Metadata is what appears in the search engine results when your website comes up for a query. Like in the example below.
If you don’t have metadata set up, the search engine will create this for you. But it will likely not be what you want and the meta description will be truncated by character limit.
If you’re on a WordPress website, you can tackle this 30 minute SEO task by setting up the Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast makes it easy to change the page title and meta description directly within the editor of each post.
Another added bonus – you don’t have to remember the latest standards for metadescription length. Yoast will highlight the text in red, yellow, or green to let you know how much space is remaining.
Got more than 30 minutes? Watch our Intro to SEO webinar to learn more about metadata.
3. Add your phone number (or preferred contact method) to your site header.
Now more than ever, your website should be easy to use so people can quickly find the information they need.
Consider adding a phone number or your preferred method of contact to your website header so people can easily see it. If you have a form or an informational update they should see first before contacting you, draw attention to that as well.
Southwest Airlines used this method by listing important links in the top header and a “High Call Volumes” notice so customers know what to expect. I was quickly able to find their policy about cancelling a flight in the “information for you” links, and didn’t even have to call! I’m sure they’ll appreciate one less phone call in these crazy times.
4. Write a blog post and share it on social media.
A blog post is a great way to show that your business is still up and running. Need an idea for a quick post? Write about your top selling item of the year.
Got an item or service that could help people during these challenging times? Write a product highlight in a blog post and share it on your social channels. This doesn’t have to be long, but make it informative and helpful.
5. Review and update your navigation menu.
Now is a great time to review the buttons and options in your navigation menu. Are these items still relevant to your customers or shoppers, given the current environment?
On the HostGator blog, we’re working hard to pump out a lot of content to support our customers during the new state of work. I wanted to be able to point website visitors to one link where they could see all this great content. And so it doesn’t get lost in our steady stream of new articles that are publishing each day.
So I added “COVID-19 Business Tips” to the main navigation. Now this content – which is currently our priority focus – is highlighted and easy for people to find.
While I was in there, I also changed “Resource Library” to “Webinars & More.” This seemed more descriptive of the content and would catch attention while people are coming to our site to learn new things about going online.
When you want to make some meaningful changes to your website on a time crunch, these ideas will get you started. Now, hurry up! Pick your fave and get it done before the dog wakes up!
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The post Employees Working Remote?Cybersecurity Checklist for Small Business Owners appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Millions of Americans are “working from home” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the sudden transition to working at home leaves many businesses vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.
But new cybersecurity threats could shut businesses down, hold their data for ransom, and cost them big in stolen funds. As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about, am I right!?
Big businesses have the resources and IT staff to help secure their remote workforce. But most smaller organizations don’t—and hackers know it. If your SMB recently transitioned to remote work or is about to, here’s a cybersecurity checklist to keep your business safe.
First, why should SMBs worry about remote work security right now?
There are 3 big reasons why SMBs need to focus on cybersecurity as their people work from home.
With every new device and network used to access your company’s data, your attack surface grows. What that means is that there are more potential ways for hackers to break into your systems. For example, if your payroll manager logs into your accounts from a phone over a public Wi-Fi network, hackers could steal their login credentials and get into your accounts, too.Cybercriminals profit from chaos and stress. Our current reality delivers both, which is why fraudsters are launching all kinds of coronavirus-related scams aimed at businesses, consumers, even hospitals. When your administrative assistant gets an urgent email from you directing them to make an online donation to a COVID-19 charity in the company’s name, they might do it without question—without realizing the email came from a scammer impersonating you to steal company funds.Most of us are less cybersecure at home than at work. Even if your cybersecurity game is perfect in your workplace, out-of-date or unpatched software on an employee’s home computer could give hackers the security gap they need to worm their way into your business.
OK, so how can you protect your SMB while your people work remotely?
Here are 7 security steps to make your business more secure while everyone’s working from home.
1. Talk to your employees and leadership team about phishing
Even before the coronavirus emerged, scammers were sending out 3.4 billion phishing emails every day, per TechRadar and Valimail. Now, scammers are targeting remote workers with COVID-19 related:
scams designed to steal their login credentials to Office365, OneDrive and other cloud data storage services “urgent” email impersonations of company leaders requesting that employees transfer funds, pay invoices or make donations online. For real. It’s even happened to us at HostGator.messages that encourage recipients to click on a link or attachment for COVID-19 information, only to download ransomware.
To help keep your employees from getting phished, David Johnson, Chief Information Security Officer for HostGator, recommends reminding them to watch for emails containing:
Mismatched or misleading informationFake shipping or delivery notificationsFake purchase confirmations and invoicesRequests for personal informationPromises of rewardsCharity or gift card requestsUrgent or threatening language (like “your account will be terminated”) Unexpected emails
Encourage (and frequently remind) your employees to
Check the email header to see if the sender’s display name and their email match. Scammers can set up a free email account with any name they choose—even yours—so it’s important to check the address.If the email appears to come from a fellow employee, manager, customer or vendor, verify the sender via voice, text or video chat before you follow “urgent” instructions, especially requests for money. Be cautious about clicking links, opening attachments or putting information into pop-up dialog boxes. When in doubt, don’t.Report suspicious emails to you or your IT person.
2. Protect your website from crashes and takeovers
Because ransomware attacks are on the rise, it’s also important to make sure your website has regular backups and continuous malware scans.
Check with your IT person or your web hosting provider to make sure you have automated site backups at least once every 24 hours that include file and database backups. That way if your site goes down, you have a recent version you can bring back up while you sort out the problem.
You’ll also want to check to see if your site gets regular scans for malware infections and the kinds of vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to inject malware into your site. The quicker these problems are spotted and removed, the better.
HostGator customers can add CodeGuard and SiteLock to their websites for regular backups, scans and protection from bot attacks.
3. Protect company equipment from hacking and theft
If your employees are using company-issued computers and mobile devices, make the rules for safe use clear.
Company devices should be used for work only. Many companies mandate that company computers should be used for company work only, not as a personal computer. But the employees may not think about how using company tech for personal tasks and leisure creates risk. All it takes is one wrong click for your company data and logins to be hacked. Company devices should be securely stored when not in use. When company laptops and phones get stolen from people’s cars, the data on them gets stolen, too.
4. Keep everyone’s apps and OS up to date
Remember that huge Equifax in 2017 data breach that affected more than 143 million people? They could have prevented that by keeping their software patched and up to date. Instead, they let a known vulnerability in one of their apps sit unpatched for weeks, and hackers exploited it.
Keeping your company’s software updated, and patching vulnerabilities as soon as patches are available, are easy ways to keep hackers from walking right into your system.
The need for real-time updates also applies to company-owned devices that your employees are using at home—and to their personal computers and phones if they’re using those to work remotely.
5. Make employees’ remote connections as secure as possible
How your employees access company email, databases and files matters, because unsecure connections are another potential entry point for bad actors. Let’s look at connection methods from least to most secure.
Public or free Wi-Fi and computers. This shouldn’t be much of an issue right now, because so many of us are confined to home. But just in case, it’s wise to make clear that no employees should be logging in to work from public Wi-Fi or public computer terminals.
Home networks are safer than public Wi-Fi, if they’re set up correctly. Encourage your employees to make sure their home Wi-Fi network password isn’t easy to guess, and that it isn’t used for any other accounts.
If your workforce is at least moderately tech-savvy, you can encourage them to change the default password on their home router. Often, it’s “admin/admin” which makes them vulnerable to hackers who use search tools to scan IP addresses on the web, find those with default router credentials and hijack them. Read our guide to setting a secure password.
Your company’s VPN. If you already have a virtual private network (VPN), make sure it’s up to date and require your remote employees to use it.
Don’t have a VPN? Now’s the time to invest in one. A VPN encrypts the data that moves between your company’s system and your remote workers so there’s no way to steal it en route. Not sure where to begin? TechRadar has business VPN recommendations.
6. Have everyone use the same tech tools
Even though everyone’s out of the office, they should all be using the apps and services you’ve selected for your company—or alternatives you approve. When employees start using new apps to do their work without an OK from the company, that’s called “shadow IT.” It can result in “serious security gaps,” according to Cisco, in part because shadow IT increases your attack surface.
For example, if your company shares documents, slide decks and spreadsheets through Google Drive, no one should also be using Dropbox or OneDrive to share company data. If you’re using Slack for work conversations, employees should stick to Slack and not break off into Skype or Hangouts groups to work.
7. Encourage good password hygiene
Reminding your employees to use strong, unique passwords may not seem like an important security step. After all, we’ve been hearing that advice for years but people still use terrible, insecure passwords like 123123.
But terrible, insecure passwords are an easy way for hackers to get into your employees’ accounts and then into your business. One way to ensure better passwords is to use a password manager service for your SMB. With this kind of tool, you can require strong passwords, require two-factor authentication if you like and schedule required password changes. You can find a guide to SMB password managers at InformationWeek’s Dark Reading.
How can you get your employees to follow these recommendations?
Too many recommendations at once may overwhelm your people. A more workable approach is to focus on one security task per workday or per week, depending on everyone’s bandwidth. With a planned approach, you can make your business more secure and give everyone one less thing to worry about.
Ready to make your SMB site more secure? Get daily site backups with CodeGuard and regular malware scans with SiteLock.
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The post Bootstrap Tutorial: Simple Tips for Beginners and Beyond appeared first on HostGator Blog.
There was a time when professional web design was out of reach for all but large corporations. Now, anyone can Bootstrap a website without sacrificing quality or functionality.
What is Bootstrap?
Bootstrap is “the world’s most popular front-end component library” for building responsive, mobile-first websites. Back up…what’s a component? Carousels, buttons, nav bars, etc., all the pieces you need to build a site by quickly copying and pasting snippets of HTML.
It’s the ultimate front-end framework that was created to make web design fast and virtually effortless. Bootstrap was first used to build Twitter, and it’s still a popular open source platform that almost anyone can use with a little knowledge and experimentation.
Using this tool allows developers to focus on fine-tuning the front-end look and functionality, building on current HTML and CSS-supported style sheets to create any feature you need to make your user interface mobile-friendly and hassle-free.
The JQuery plugins allow you to place carousels, provide pop-outs and tool-tips that users can mouse over, and add any buttons needed for their website to function. It focuses on three areas, grid layouts, mobile-first functionality, and flat design. With Bootstrap, you can:
Create multi-form layouts with distinct classesBuild prototypesShowcase images and other content by creating carousels or slidersCreate dynamic tabs to handle large blocks of contentAdd components like modals and accordions without needing to touch any JS
Responsive website design that’s big on user experience (UX) should be the goal of all website owners, regardless of the purpose of your site or the intended audience. Our goal is to give you some tips and tricks to get the most out of this platform regardless of your level of tech knowledge or skill.
Tip 1: Begin With the Basics
You can get started with Bootstrap by opening it with a content delivery network (CDN). It’ll load faster and streamline the process of creating your first web page with this platform. Once you install jQuery and JS libraries in the footer of the index.html file, you’re ready to open your code editor and create a sample html file. Please note that jQUery is required to use Bootstrap’s JS plugins. Hopefully, this will change some time in the near future.
Make sure to place the meta tag inside the header section to enable touch zooming and proper mobile rendering. You can try it out using this example:
This can be converted from plain HTML to a Bootstrap template by using their links to include Bootstrap CSS, JS files, any required jQuery, and Popper.js. Include JS files at the bottom of the page just before you close the body to get better page performance. It should look like this:
Website visitors that already have Bootstrap CSS and JS files installed using the same CDN as yours during their browsing sessions will be able to load your web pages directly from the browser cache, which will further reduce page loads.
Once you’ve created the template, you can save it to your desktop for easy access later.
Tip 2: Getting Used to Grids
You won’t truly see the beauty of Bootstrap’s front-end flow until you get the hang of the grid system. The responsive design mechanisms just glide over the templates and create an environment with great UI across all mobile devices which, thanks to Google’s mobile-first indexation, can lead to higher exposure in search engine results.
With now more than 50 percent of all internet traffic of the mobile variety, this becomes a huge deal. The grid itself is created on a framework of containers that are designed to snap into place, with an impenetrable gutter surrounding them to keep each design element in place and prevent overlap.
Grids are easy to learn but can be difficult to master. They provide you with a template that can be used to build quite complex sites, but once you get the hang of them there are endless possibilities.
Here are the basics. The grid template contains 12 columns labeled “navbar,” “headers”, “cards,” and other functions you’ll want to add to your pages. The way the containers work, columns are created that allow content to flow freely within each column, and it’s controlled by nesting the offsets and rows in a way that always ensures the right amount of space between each.
This process offers some symmetry to the layout without bleeding too close to the browser edges or crowding content, and so lets you focus on your design without worrying about how it will look on different displays and browsers.
The grid widths are expressed as percentages so they can be resized in relation to their parent element. You can remove the gutters – the horizontal padding on column sides – for those times when you just need one column with no padding by adding this bit of code:
Themes are built on top of the Bootstrap core code and ultimately add and improve upon its features. When you download a Bootstrap theme (here is a good place to find them for free), it will come with two folders. The documentation file contains all of the asset files, CSS, JS, and the other contains the theme. Bear in mind that your project is divided among three elements. The HTML contains your project, the JS file holds all of the interactive bits, and the CSS determines the visual layout features like fonts and colors.
This discussion of themes and templates might sound like a bit much. After all, isn’t Bootstrap supposed to be a lean framework for developing blazing fast, responsive mobile websites? If you need themes and templates, it raises the question why one wouldn’t just default to using a tried-and-true CMS like WordPress.
Tip 3: Creating Responsive Embedded Video
Image from Oculu Video Platform
One of the biggest advantages of working with Bootstrap is how easy it makes responsive web design. This is easily demonstrated by the procedure for embedding video using a helper class to create iFrames.
It should look like this, with your specs added:
<!– 16:9 aspect ratio –>
<div class=”embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9″></div>
Adding this code to your markup will allow Bootstrap to normalize any awkward borders or outlines without the need to define the frame borders. This is the essence of responsive design.
Great website design is only as good as the platform that’s hosting it. In today’s world, you can find affordable hosting solutions that are secure, reliable, and ideal for any type of website. Don’t let the word “cheap” put you off; it’s meant in relative terms.
Affordable hosting by a reliable provider will allow you or your clients to focus on branding while avoiding common network vulnerabilities that could cause downtime.. What should you look for in a hosting service?
Responsive, 24/7 customer supportSite backup availability with client accessCompetitive registration and maintenance costsLack of caps on bandwidth and storageAbility to add domains as neededReliable, guaranteed uptime percentages, security, and performance
Even if you’re an experienced developer, there’s something to love in this platform. Bootstrap fits right in with Google’s new mobile first indexing, which can help with SEO and compliance. Since it’s an open source platform, you have the flexibility to customize and tweak to your heart’s content. When time is of the essence from design to launch, anything that can get you off the ground faster is worth a second look.
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The post Website Updates to Make During Crisis [Small Business Checklist] appeared first on HostGator Blog.
How is your small business coping with the coronavirus outbreak? In many places, social distancing, shelter-in-place orders and other necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 are taking a toll on local shops. Even many online sellers expect a drop in sales through autumn because of declining consumer spending.
What can you do to keep your customers, your employees and your business as healthy as possible? We’ve put together a checklist of steps you can take now.
Download this as a PDF checklist!
1. Update your customers on changes to your business
The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing many businesses to change the way they operate, like:
Reduced hours or days of operation for businesses that need extra time to restock and deep clean.Limited inventory and shipping delays for sellers facing high demand and/or supply chain interruptions.Changes in service availability, especially for restaurants and cafes in areas where dine-in service has been limited or temporarily banned.Reduced staffing when employees become ill, have to self-quarantine or have new caregiving responsibilities at home.
Most customers understand that things are different now, but it’s important to communicate your changes clearly so they know what to expect.
Add a pop-up or banner to your website for updates
Apple’s decision to temporarily close its retail stores made global headlines, and the company has a homepage banner to make sure customers get the info.
You can use a banner like Apple has, or you can create a pop-up message that grabs visitors’ attention.
Hustle is a popular WordPress plugin you can use to quickly build pop-ups, promote social sharing and grow your email list. That’s convenient, because you’ll also need to share your changes and updates on social media and via email.
Update your online profiles
Start by updating your Google My Business profile. Google has step by step instructions for setting special hours. If you have a Facebook page for your business, you’ll need to change your hours there, too.
It’s also a good idea to schedule more than one post about your changes to each social network where your business has a presence, to make it more likely that your audience will see your update.
Email updates to your list
Let your email list know about your temporary changes as soon as possible and let them know you’ll send more updates as things change.
The website pop-up or banner you use to announce changes can also include a subscription box so visitors can sign up for updates—a way to grow your list and keep everyone up to speed.
Promote delivery and carryout options
One of the biggest changes for many local eateries is the need to reduce seating capacity, limit counter lines or close their dining room without driving away customers completely.
Here’s how one Austin cupcake bakery with a small seating area and frequent long lines has updated their homepage to let customers know their options for getting treats.
Manage delivery-time expectations
If you sell online or are adding local delivery options, make sure you and your customers are clear about how long it will take items to arrive. Most people are understanding right now, but they want to know before they order.
Here’s an example of both what to do and what not to do. Amazon has been slammed with Prime Now orders as people stay home and try to avoid grocery stores. This banner on the Prime Now homepage makes that clear, which is good.
However, as of this writing you have to add items to your cart—items that are in stock, hooray!–and start checking out to learn that you can’t get those items because there are no delivery slots open.
Yes, this is life in a pandemic. But it’s also not a great use of customers’ time. A better option? Be up front about when delivery is available before customers load up their virtual cart. This information can appear in a pop-up or a banner that you update as needed.
For online sellers facing supplier slowdowns, you need a different kind of delivery-time transparency:
If popular items are out of stock, use your website banner or pop-up to let shoppers know, along with when you expect to get more of those items. If you have alternatives in stock that might meet your customers’ needs, suggest them.
To keep customers in the loop after they place an order, you can add plugins like YITH WooCommerce Order Tracking and YITH WooCommerce SMS Notifications. These tools will show your customers exactly where their stuff is via your website, email and text messages. That’s handy at a time when shipping may also be delayed, and you may be short-staffed and struggling to respond to customer inquiries.
2. Show customers what you’re doing to keep everyone safe
Customers want to know how you’re protecting them and your employees from coronavirus. (If you haven’t reviewed the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines for businesses yet, now’s a good time to do so.)
Explaining the social distancing and deep-cleaning steps you’re taking is good customer relations and good citizenship. For example, here’s the homepage banner for a popular Austin nursery:
Clicking through takes you to a message about how they’re protecting staffers and customers.
Consider adding a COVID-19 FAQ section to your business website
The pandemic and responses to it are changing by the day. You may want to add a section or page where you post regular updates and feature a link to it on your homepage.
Regional grocery chain H-E-B offers a great example. The company’s newsroom page is full of articles that explain how the company is cleaning stores, adjusting hours and trying to make sure there’s enough stuff to go around:
This level of communication answers customers’ questions quickly and helps maintain their trust.
3. Explore ideas to keep business moving
One reason the coronavirus outbreak is so unsettling is that no one knows how long it will last. Because of that uncertainty, it’s a good idea to think now about new ways your business can bring in revenue or find support over the coming weeks and months.
Can you sell your products online? Invest in eCommerce hosting for your website. If you haven’t built your website yet, get one up quickly with an eCommerce website builder.Can you pivot? If customers aren’t buying what you normally sell, think about what necessities you might offer instead. For example, a pastry-chain owner in Seattle is keeping her business going by adding bread to her bakeries’ sweet and savory snack menu. Her business also offers home delivery and lots of pickup locations—ideal at a time when foot traffic in Seattle is basically nonexistent. Do you offer gift cards? If not, now’s the time to start. If you do, now’s the time to promote them heavily, because people are not going to shop for gifts in person for a while.What about gift baskets and gift wrap options? Travel restrictions mean we won’t get to see far-off friends and family as often, but we can still send presents. Can you create a splashy presentation with your products to help your customers make someone’s day?Can you offer subscription boxes? Regular home delivery of pet treats, coffee, tea or other staples gives your customers one less thing to worry about trying to find. Subscriptions for snacks, games or toys seem tailor-made for a world where children may be out of school and stuck at home for weeks or months.
You can also start looking into resources to help your business with cash flow. The Small Business Administration has earmarked money for low-interest loans in areas hit hard by the coronavirus. You can also check with your city and state small business development agencies to see what resources they have for you.
And if you’re in a cash crunch, talk to your bank or credit union sooner rather than later. They may be willing to waive service fees or work out a plan with you to help your business get through the COVID-19 crisis.
Finally, keep in touch online with other small-business owners in your area and your industry to share ideas, find resources and get the peer support you need to keep your business running and your people healthy during this challenging time.
Download the PDF checklist to help with your website updates!
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The post How to Add a Live Sales Popup to Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.
If you’re looking for new ways to build trust with your website visitors, have you considered adding a live sales popup to your site?
Live sales popups appear in the corner of the screen so visitors browsing your site can see customer activity in real-time. These types of notifications are great at generating leads, boosting sales, and building your email list because they convince users to take action.
Why Use a Live Sales Popup?
There are several benefits to using live sales notifications on your site. If you run an eCommerce store, it depends on accumulating customers so it can produce enough sales to see ROI. However, If you’re going to move customers through the sales funnel, building brand credibility first is a must.
Live sales notifications use FOMO, the fear of missing out, and social proof to convince customers to purchase. Visitors don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on a popular product enjoyed by many others, so they feel compelled to check it out. In the same way, when they see other people purchasing your products, it intrigues them to learn more.
Using live notifications also builds trust between brand and visitor. When customers don’t have products up close and personal to examine before they buy, the real-time activity of other users eases their doubts and pushes them in the right direction.
A whopping 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from earned media. People feel more comfortable engaging with your products and services when they know others are doing the same.
If you want users to take a specific action or navigate to a specific part of your site, live notifications can help. Let’s say you want users to sign up for your lead magnet. You can create a live popup that shows visitors signing up in real-time.
For visitors near the end of the sales funnel who are still weighing their options, live sales popups push them to make a final buying decision. It can be the factor that turns someone from a visitor into a paying customer as it wipes away their doubts.
It’s easier to increase conversions, drive sales, and build better customer relationships when you take the time to reassure your visitors. Live notifications do a great job of navigating users through buying decisions so they feel confident buying from your brand.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to add a live sales popup to your site so your business can boost engagement and generate sales.
How to Create a Live Sales Popup
1. Install the Plugin and Create an Account
You need a sturdy, reliable WordPress plugin like TrustPulse to connect your site to the popup software. TrustPulse is a social proof plugin that’s proven to increase site conversions by 15 percent. It drives user engagement by directing visitors to a specific product or to take a specific action.
Once live, it looks like this:
For the first step, download and activate the TrustPulse plugin so it’s added to your WordPress dashboard.
You then need to create a TrustPulse account. Go to their website and click “Get Started For Free.”
Enter your information in the field forms provided and select “Start My Risk-Free Trial Now.”
2. Create Your Campaign
Once the formalities of signing up are over, it’s time to create your live popup campaign to convert more customers.
From your TrustPulse dashboard, select “Create Campaign.”
Now it’s time to add the basic details, such as the campaign name and type.
There are two options for campaign type:
Recent Activity – shows your website activity in real-timeOn-Fire – shows the number of people taking action on your site
For this tutorial, we’ll choose “Recent Activity.”
3. Design Your Campaign
Now it’s time for the fun part: designing and formatting your campaign. It’s important for any marketing campaign that you’re able to tailor your message to your brand. You see the best results by creating strategies that work for your target audience.
In the Design and Appearance section, you can customize your notifications to send the proper marketing messages and convert visitors. This includes the language, the location of the notifications on your site, and much more.
Use the live preview feature to see how it looks on your site:
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your campaign and test different elements to see what brings the best results.
4. Capture User Activity
Now, you need to decide how you’ll capture users’ activity on your site. TrustPulse lets you choose between two platforms, AutoMagic and Zapier. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to use AutoMagic, which is easy for beginners. However, feel free to use Zapier if that’s the option you’re comfortable with.
Then, fill out the rest of the form fields to indicate where you’re capturing activity from.
When you’re done, select Next Step.
5. Set Display Rules
Now, you must decide where you want to display your live sales popup on your website. You can put it on every webpage or only a specific page depending on your goals.
Use the settings to pick where you display your popup notifications, choose how long to display them, and more.
6. Publish Your Campaign
It’s finally time to publish your campaign and start showing visitors the real-time activity taking place on your website. You’ll see a live preview of your live sales popup. Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, click “Launch your TrustPulse campaign” to save and publish your campaign.
Start Making Money With Your Live Sales Popup
If you’re going to attract visitors and turn them into paying customers, you need to build brand credibility through social proof. Adding social proof to any marketing strategy will boost your conversions and increase sales as you continue building trust with your customers.
Now that you’ve created your first live sales popup campaign, it’s time to sit back and wait for the conversions to flow in.
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The post 7 Ways to Still Get on Your Audience’s Facebook News Feeds WITHOUT Paying for Ads appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Getting your blog or website onto your Facebook fan’s news feed used to be easy – after all, they were your fans and you already put in the work to win them over! They Like you, you post, they see it.
Then, almost overnight, it became really difficult to reach your fans when Facebook introduced Boosted Posts. Now you had to pay a tiny bit to get eyeballs. Even with boosting, it’s still difficult to achieve that organic 1-1 fan relationship feeling again, right?
So how are the coolest, most personalized brands still talking to their fans, and getting new fans right from the newsfeed for free?
In this post I’ll show you 7 actionable ways to still get on your fan audience’s news feed without paying for Facebook ads. In fact, these 7 methods will results in MORE traction than ads would get you.
If you have 500-1000 or more fans just waiting for your next post, this info could help you really mobilize people and get them talking about your brand!
What Matters on Facebook in 2020: Engagement is Everything
So it’s no secret anymore that more Likes don’t really matter.
In fact,SocialSamosa did a study showing that only 1% of users who like a business page will actually visit that brand’s Facebook page.
In order to understand how Likes are useless, think about all the pages you like. There’s a good chance you like that page either because Facebook suggested it, or you got something for it, or you just at some point wanted to show some support.
So what does matter for your brand on Facebook? Engagement.
The Dave Ryan in the Morning Show began with just three friends in a basement and now dominates Midwestern radio air waves every morning.
Engagement, aka your ability to use Facebook to connect with real users and show them you’re a real person too. This big “E” word is one reason Groups are the new Pages.
The Dave Ryan in the Morning Facebook page is one I always think of when it comes to engagement.
They publish simple, relatable questions that often have to do with talk show topics.
Simple questions + relevant topics = tons of Engagement
Take one look at theirPage posts and you’ll see tons of engagement. I often chime in too just because it’s easy, and you know others will see your response.
Engagement also affects the visibility of your content.
If you just link blast your new content, while it may be amazing and revolutionary, this isn’t really an engaging way of using Facebook, and you’ll be disappointed with the visibility you get then probably think “well, Facebook doesn’t work anymore.”
But if you post a relevant, timely question to your fans, you’ll get a lot more engagement because among other reasons it sparks conversation. This engagement will snowball into more visibility and more engagement and so on and so on.
Finally, from Neil Patel’s blog, a new way to look at your Facebook efforts:
If the viral power of Facebook has dried up, then work on generating conversation. Talk to your fans. Use it as a communication portal, rather than a way to build up likes.
Now that we know what still matters on Facebook in 2020 (Engagement and Conversation) let’s look at how to tailor your efforts to get in on the action.
7 Ways to Still Get on Your Fan Audience’s News Feeds for FREE
As I mentioned above, Groups are slowly becoming the new Pages and are sending a ton of quality traffic to valuable pages on brand websites.
Facebook is the largest social network by far and being the first to the scene has allowed the to boast over1.23 billion monthly active users.
Why wouldn’t you want to stir things up on Facebook? For every reader your acquire through blood sweat and tears working on your blog, there are probably 100 more just like them with the same interest profile on Facebook.
Here’s how to get in on the action:
Create a Facebook GroupAs we mentioned above, Groups are the new Pages, but why? It’s simple really. Groups are a place where you have to be invited or actually allow in, while Pages are open to anyone. That one simple exclusivity characteristic can make people feel a belonging and relationship to others. It probably doesn’t hurt that Facebook advertises Groups these days (which hints at their increased importance in the Facebook Newsfeed algorithm).Post Relevant Questions to your Group/PageOnce you’ve got your new Group or old Page, it’ll be tempting to link blast but DON’T. Think about questions on your readers mind and ask them. The more intriguing and relevant the question, the more likely you’ll get a response. The key is also not to get down if you get zero interaction. It often takes several post to get people’s attention, and break down that natural laziness barrier we almost all possess when we’re online.Repost Questions from Your Other Social SitesAlready have traction on Twitter, YouTube, or maybe your newsletter? Reposting questions is a great way to get new people talking about topics you’ve already covered. After your repost the question or a screenshot of it, answer the question but not completely, so you still leave room for discussion. If you’re still not getting any engagement, ask your friends personally to respond to the questions with something funny!Create Banners with Weekly ThemesTime to get a big coffee from your favorite shop and create some unique promotion content around your brand. Things like “WordPress Wednesdays” which is a weekly topic on the WPBeginner Group are amazing for bringing people together each week. You can use the same banners each time, too!Use PollsPretty simple here, you can use Facebook’s built in polls or any number of apps to ask questions and poll folks for the answers. Try to ask questions where people will be surprised about the answers, and maybe even feel a little personal involvement in the issue.Find Your Fans Posts, and Interact!I know it’s a little bit of leg work but it’s worth it. Maybe you’ve just helped Ann Doe signup to your online course, and are super excited about her participation. Go thank this person on Facebook and mention your own product in a savvy way. There’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn a little and begin excited about someone’s participation in your work. I think it was Pat Flynn who said, “Try to sell to people on Facebook is like butting into a conversation at a cocktail party and asking if someone wants to buy your duct tape”. So, think of Facebook as a big open party where lots of people are talking, but also a party you want to be respected at, and you’ll be in the right mindset to find people.Go Live!It’s a little bit scary to go live because what if your hair looks awful, but it’s actually a fun and empowering activity. Try going live during important national events or important personal events and use hashtags. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving and you want to thank your fans for allowing you to work through social media and blogging. Just being a part of these big moments shows your Fans you’re thinking about them, and gives you the stage for a few minutes.
I hope the above 7 ways to generate more Facebook engagement for free have given you some inspiration to use Facebook in new and interesting ways.
Remember: If you hear crickets at first, keep at it! It takes EVERYONE a few times seeing a person or brand before we give in and interact. Seriously!
Conclusion: How will you grow Facebook engagement for free?
Were you down in the dumps with your Facebook efforts before reading this post? Do you have hundreds or even thousands of fans on a Page just collecting dust?
Let us know where you’re at with Facebook content marketing, and we’ll try to help out in the comments!
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The post Work-From-Home Tips for the Avid Office Dweller appeared first on HostGator Blog.
We all have those “I wish I could stay home and wear my pajama pants instead of going to work” days. Enter the Coronavirus or COVID-19 and your “work from home” days come true.
With health and wellness in mind, companies across the globe are sending employees home to work.
So we polled our blog team and put together these tips for coping at home without your fav office buds.
1. Confirm the preferred method of communication that’s appropriate for your team.
First of all, follow the protocol set by your company and your boss. If your company tells you to work from home, do it. If your company tells you otherwise, follow their instructions.
“Work with your team to figure out the best ways to replicate the kind of communication you have in the office. Will you be better served by staying in touch via Slack throughout the day, sticking with emails, or having Skype or Zoom check-ins once a week?” – Kristen Hicks, HostGator blog writer
2. Work in a room with a door you can close.
Not everyone has an in-home office. If other people (or four-legged friends) are in the home with you, set up a temporary workspace in a room where you can close the door.
“Besides helping to shut out background noise when you’re on conference calls, closing the door – at least during meetings and when you really need to focus – is a visual cue to kids and other people living with you that you shouldn’t be interrupted.” – Casey Kelly-Barton, HostGator blog writer
“If working from home is new to you, you may not have a spare room you can suddenly turn into an office. Resist the temptation to work from bed or the couch. As the saying goes about not mixing work and play, you don’t want to mix work and sleep. Working from bed creates a dangerous association in your mind of your bed as a place of stress and activity, instead of sleep and relaxation.” – Amelia Willson, freelance writer and HostGator customer.
3. Got kids at home? Plan a daily schedule to keep those cuties busy.
If you’re on your own juggling work and kids, give yourself permission to plop the kids in front of a movie when you’re working on your most high-value tasks.
“Don’t feel guilty over emergency screen time. Kids are resilient. This is an unusual situation, and the fact that you’re balancing remote work and childcare on the fly makes you the parent of the year!” – Casey Kelly-Barton, HostGator blog writer
Plan activities for the day to keep kids entertained while they are at home. Make a run to the local drugstore or dollar store for coloring books and crayons or other age-appropriate activities. Plan out a simple schedule for your children to follow, and schedule quiet activities – like a movie – during your high visibility meetings.
4. Keep pets out of your workspace during conference calls and video meetings.
“It’s easy to forget how disruptive pets can be until Fido starts barking like a maniac during a client phone call. Hand out chew toys during calls and conferences to buy their silence if you need to.” – Casey Kelly-Barton, HostGator blog writer
“My dog is really distracted by me being home. I’m waking up early to take her for walks and wear her out.” – Emily Hill, Senior Manager of Brand & Communications for HostGator
5: Take breaks & get some physical activity.
It’s natural to get up and move around the office. But you may find yourself getting up from the laptop less now that you’re working from home. A little prancercise, anyone?
“Consider exercise videos or going for a walk if your neighborhood allows you to keep a safe distance from people. Also, exercise is good for productivity and energy, so don’t feel guilty about making time for it.” – Kristin Hicks, HostGator blog writer
“A quick walk with your dog or listening to music or a podcast, are great ways to free the mind and help you context-switch between projects. During this time of social distancing, you might use your break to call and check in on a friend. Just limit your breaks to 20 to 30 minutes, tops. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fall into Netflix mode.” – Amelia Willson, freelance writer & HostGator customer
What tips do YOU have? Comment below!
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The post How to Use WordPress Website Builders to Easily Create Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Building a website as a beginner used to be near impossible to do yourself. You had to either spend hours upon hours learning how to code, or you had to hire a developer to build your site for you.
Luckily, those times have changed for the better. First, we had the introduction of WordPress, which allowed complete beginners to create and customize their sites. But even then, WordPress had a bit of a learning curve when making changes to the overall design of your site.
In recent years, we had an explosion of website builders. These tools allowed complete beginners to customize the design of a site without any coding or development skills.
Today we have the best of both worlds with the introduction of WordPress page builders. These plugins combine the power of WordPress with the ease of a website builder, which is what this post is all about.
If you’re here to build your very first WordPress website with a drag and drop page builder, then you’re in the right place. Below you’ll learn all about WordPress website builders and how you can use them to build your very first website.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a CMS, or content management system. It was originally built as a blogging system, but it has since evolved into a full-fledged website builder.
Technically, WordPress is a self-hosted open-source content management system. You can build a site with WordPress, but it’s not technically a website builder (as you’ll learn below).
With WordPress, you install the core version of WordPress on your website. Then, you choose and install a WordPress theme, which will form the foundation for your website. Your theme is what will control how your website looks and functions.
Then, if you want to add more features to your website you can install a WordPress plugin.
The true power of WordPress comes from its content management abilities. It’s used to run and manage some of the biggest content-driven sites across the web.
Is WordPress a Website Builder?
Technically, a website builder is a tool that allows you to build a website. Looking at this, WordPress is a website builder of sorts.
However, the website builder market today is full of all-in-one website building tools, which are equipped with drag and drop features. Just sign up for a single service and you can do everything under one roof.
WordPress isn’t really a website builder, per se, but it does have website building functionality.
However, you can unlock the features of most other popular website builders, like drag and drop functionality, with the help of a WordPress page builder plugin.
What Is a WordPress Page Builder?
A WordPress page builder is a plugin that enables drag and drop design functionality on top of WordPress. Once activated this kind of plugin creates a beginner-friendly design environment that allows users to build custom websites with ease.
Since it’s drag and drop, you don’t have to touch the backend code. The plugin automatically creates clean code for you as you design your site.
It’s a great system for business owners on a budget, who want a custom website and want to use WordPress, but don’t want to hire an expensive designer to build their sites for them.
Best WordPress Page Builder Plugins
The page builder plugin market has exploded in recent years and it’s easy to see why. It’s hard to beat the power and content management abilities of WordPress, combined with the beginner-friendly features of a page builder.
Here are some of the most popular WordPress page builder plugins on the market today:
Elementor is both a free and premium WordPress plugin. For a lot of users, the free version will be more than enough to build a custom website.
The free version is a pretty powerful page builder. Plus, it’s incredibly fast, even being packed with features, all of the changes are reflected instantly.
You can add a lot of cool effects to your site with this plugin, like animations, shapes, moving backgrounds, and more. Just choose any widget you’d like from the sidebar and drop it into the page you’re building. There are over 25 different widgets to choose from.
You’ll also find a library of page templates you can choose from to give your site-building experience a head start.
2. WP Page Builder
WP Page Builder is a free page builder plugin that’s been on the market for only two years, making it one of the newest plugins on the list. The design of this plugin is very simple, which makes it very easy to use.
It’s equipped with a variety of pre-built elements, page sections, and complete layouts. These make it easy to create a brand new page of your site in a few minutes.
Like other plugins it’s a live editor, so you can see your changes in real-time. Plus, it has drag and drop functionality, so you can quickly move any site element around the page.
Overall, it’s packed with advanced features all at an affordable price.
3. Beaver Builder
Beaver Builder is a premium drag and drop website builder plugin for WordPress. However, there’s also a free version of the plugin available with a limited feature set.
When you first install the plugin there’s an in-depth tutorial that’ll get you up to speed on using the plugin quickly.
This plugin supports designing your site in real-time, so you can see what the changes look like instantly. Just drop elements from the sidebar onto the page you’re building and rearrange them as you wish.
There are all kinds of content modules you can choose from to add unique elements to your site like sliders, content blocks, buttons, media, backgrounds, and more.
4. Visual Composer
Visual Composer is a WordPress page builder that’s built for beginners to experts alike.
It’s packed to the brim with different design elements and features. For example, you’ll find over 50 different content elements and 100 different layouts. Plus, you’ll find over 200 different third-party add-ons. Whatever kind of content element or customization you want to make to your site, you’ll be able to do it with this plugin.
The design process is a bit different with this plugin, as you have both a frontend and backend visual editor. The frontend editor lets you see changes that you make to the design of your site, while the backend editor is a grid-based system that affects the layout of your site.
When you design a site with this tool you can enable a similar layout to the layers feature in Photoshop, which allows you to easily move between different elements.
Benefits of Using a WordPress Website Builder Plugin
If you want to create a custom WordPress website and you don’t come from a development background, then using a WordPress website builder plugin is going to be your best bet.
Here are just a few reasons you’ll want to use a WordPress page builder when creating your new website:
1. Real-Time Website Editing
Being able to see the changes you make reflected in real-time is a huge time saver. Once you start designing your site this way it’ll be hard to go back.
You don’t need to write code either. Just select a pre-made template, and start adding new content blocks and rearranging other website elements, until you have a site that you love.
As soon as you make a change to your site, you’ll immediately see how it looks and functions. You no longer have to go back and forth between saving changes and viewing your site, it all happens instantaneously.
2. Access to Advanced Features
Most website builders are equipped with advanced site functions. You’re not just building a basic HTML and CSS website. You’re building a website with super-advanced functionality and features. And you’re doing it all on your own.
Most website builders give you access to things like:
Custom web forms. These are contact forms, sign up forms, opt-ins, and more. Plus, you can create all of these forms without having to install a plugin. Advanced image carousels. These are full-screen image sliders, and other image effects that you can use without additional plugins. Accordion text. This is a cool feature that can hide and expand text, making your site more interactive. Tables and pricing elements. Showcase your services and products in unique tables that allow you easy package pricing. Animated elements. Access a library of advanced animation effects you can use to draw visitors into your site.
3. Pre-made Layouts and Content Blocks
Nearly every website builder is equipped with pre-made layouts and content blocks. These layouts are templates created by professional designers. Instead of starting from scratch you can start with a foundation and then simply modify to your liking.
These layouts are broken down on two levels. The first is depending on the niche you’re in, and the second is based on the type of page you’re creating. For example, you’ll find templates for business sites, a local cafe, a massage studio, an online magazine and also templates for specific pages like about pages, product pages, contact pages, and more.
4. Built with Beginners in Mind
If you couldn’t guess by now, WordPress page builders are built for complete beginners. Even if you’ve never built a website before, you can use a page builder to create a stunning website.
It might take you longer than someone experienced with the tool, but the learning curve is very low.
The visual nature of the tools removes all the technical aspects of creating a website and turns it more into an art project.
Should I Use a WordPress Page Builder Plugin?
The answer to this question will differ depending on the type of site you’re trying to create.
Here are some considerations to take into account when trying to decide whether or not you should use a website builder, or just customize the standard theme without one.
The real question you need to ask is: how much do I need to customize my site?
If the theme you installed is very close to how you want your site to look, then you probably don’t need to use a page builder. You can just tweak the theme settings to get the kind of site you want.
Page builders are best for when you want to create unique pages and redesign existing pages, or the complete layout of your website.
How to Install a WordPress Page Builder Plugin
By now you know whether or not you’re going to use a page builder plugin to customize your site. If you decided yes, then follow the steps below to install a page builder plugin and start customizing your site.
1. Login to WordPress
The first thing you’ll need to do is login to the backend of your WordPress site.
Once you’re there, click on Plugins>Add New.
2. Search for Your Plugin of Choice
On the plugin screen, search for the WordPress page builder plugin you want to use, in this case we’re going to search for the “Elementor” plugin:
Once you’ve found it, click ‘Install’ then ‘Activate’.
If you’ve previously downloaded the plugin, then you’ll want to click the ‘Upload Plugin’ button and upload the zip file downloaded on your computer.
If you happened to go right for the premium version of any of the page builder plugins mentioned above you’ll need to upload the plugin as well.
3. Activate and Start Building
Now, on the left-hand sidebar you should see a tab with the name of the plugin. Click on it and you’ll be taken to the plugin settings screen.
Here are the general settings for the Elementor plugin:
With the plugin installed you can start creating different pages and editing existing pages with the site building tool.
For example, here’s what the editing screen looks like with the Elementor builder active.
With Elementor we can rearrange any existing elements on the screen, or drag different elements from the left-hand sidebar over onto our sites.
When you click on any existing site element the options menu will change to reflect how you can adjust and tweak the existing element.
Here are a few ways we can change the highlighted text:
Regardless of whether you went with Elementor, or any other plugin from the list above, the process will be similar.
WordPress website builders make it easy to customize your site without having to touch any code. Hopefully, this post has helped you choose the right website builder for your needs!
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The post Quick Answers to Common Support Questions Our Agents Receive appeared first on HostGator Blog.
At HostGator, we are responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation to ensure we meet the needs of our customers, while providing for the health and safety of our employees.
During this time, you may experience slower wait times when you contact customer support.
But, our knowledge base website has answers to many common questions — and without the wait.
Need help with your site?
Here are some of our common requests and quick tips to get you started…
Login to the Customer Portal – From here, you can access cPanel and everything else. DNS records – Already own a domain? Connect your domain to your hosting package by setting your name servers. Here’s how. Change your DNS or name servers – If you have an existing domain, your domain name needs to be configured to work with your new hosting account. Follow the instructions here to connect your name servers with your HostGator account.Domain not working? It could be because of domain propagation. If you bought a new domain or made a major change like changing your name server, it may take 24-48 hours to start working. Read more about domain propagation here. How to find your name server – Not sure what your name server is? Or if you need to change it? Read more about name servers and how to find your name server. Email issues – Are you able to send emails but can’t receive? Here’s some troubleshooting steps. Transfer a domain – Ready to transfer your domain to HostGator? We recommend keeping your domain and hosting package with the same company. It just makes everything easier in the long run. Follow the steps in this article.Install your free SSL – An SSL certificate helps protect information that is passed from your website to the server. So when someone enters a credit card or fills out a form, that information will be protected. HostGator offers a free SSL certificate for all web hosting packages, and we have upgraded Positive or EV SSL Certificates for purchase.
Common tasks in cPanel – New to HostGator? Here’s a quick guide on how to use cPanel to manage your account. Email accounts, domain names, and more…How to use the customer portal – Check out this webinar on how to navigate the customer portal with common tasks like setting up email. cPanel File Manager – How to upload a file using the file manager
Quick install WordPress from cPanel – P.S. This is the quickest route! Install WordPress on your shared hosting package. Install WordPress manually – If you have issues with QuickInstall, for some reason…This might be helpful for our more advanced hosting packages like dedicated servers, resellers, or VPS. Get started with themes & layouts – Follow this guide to learn how to choose and install a WordPress design theme and get your WordPress site going! WordPress 101 webinar – Using extra time to build your first WordPress website? Watch this webinar for a guided tour of the dashboard and a run down of what you need to do to launch your first WordPress site.
Getting a website error message? Here’s how to fix common errors…
403, forbidden or no permission to access 404, file not found500, internal server
Need more help?
Type in your question at the knowledge base website or comment below.
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The post 8 Books Every Software Engineer Should Read appeared first on HostGator Blog.
This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.
What do software engineers read in their free time? What should you read if you’re interested in learning more about software development?
HostGator asked, and I answered with my top picks for programmers, people who’d like to know more about programming, and anyone who has to work with cross-functional teams, negotiate a pay raise or convince people to follow your vision for a project.
Let’s start with a classic introduction for people with a serious interest in software design.
1. Object Oriented Analysis and Design
The number one book that I think most software engineers would recommend is Object Oriented Analysis and Design. It’s the big “how do I architect?” guide, and it provides a lot of the background theory as to why you would do object-oriented programming, which is the major programming paradigm that is used currently.
This book is a standard recommended read for anyone who’s interested in software development. However, as a software engineer, you don’t want to focus solely on being good at writing software.
You need to be good at that, of course. But you also want to figure out what other domains to build yourself up in because you’re going to need to communicate with people who aren’t technical. That leads to my next recommendation…
2. The Phoenix Project
As part of your work, you’re going to need to convince people who aren’t technical to consider your ideas. To make the best engineering decisions, it’s important to have support outside of the engineering department.
The Phoenix Project isn’t a how-to guide. It’s a tech narrative about a fictional company that’s transitioning to the DevOps model from an older, less integrated model of working. It’s talking about the challenge of coordinating between operations and development, and how to bridge that gap and move forward quickly at scale.
It’s a pretty easy read and a good book to help you get a feel for where you want to start becoming more cross-functional. You don’t have to become an operations expert, but it’s a good idea to understand what operations is doing, so you can understand how your code is deployed beyond just, “I wrote it and now somebody else has to figure out how to get this thing to work.”
On the flipside, this book can also help people in operations and other departments understand what IT has to do to make the transition to this newer working model. The more different teams can understand each other, the more effectively they can work together.
Next, I recommend a couple of books that show engineers not only how to create new products quickly but also to decide if they’re the right products to create.
3 and 4. Lean UX and Sprint
Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams is a great book, along with Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, for understanding how to build a product quickly and with low risk.
This is important because you don’t want to write a program and then see if the market likes it. These books work together to give you a process and a philosophy to follow, to test early and to test often based on what the customer wants. These are also good books for people who work in other departments who want to learn more about how the development process works.
The four books above aren’t new to me, but I’m always looking to learn more. Here’s what’s on my list and why.
5. Domain Modeling Made Functional
Right now, I’m rereading Domain Modeling Made Functional. This book looks at domain-driven design in the framework of a functional programming language, rather than a programming language that’s object-oriented.
That’s a different programming paradigm, and the book makes a compelling case as to why and where you’d want to use a functional programming language—for example, when you need something customer-focused developed fast.
6. Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software
This book is on my to-read list because it’s supposed to address how you translate processes into software.
What does a process look like for somebody who doesn’t write software? How do you communicate about that process so you can translate it correctly into a software system? That requires communication among teams, maybe marketing, maybe sales in addition to engineering, to express those processes in terms of code.
Books 5 and 6 are aimed at readers who are familiar with software engineering principles. The next two books I recommend are for anyone who ever has to work with other people—in other words, all of us.
7. Never Split the Difference
This book is about negotiation and effective communication with people with diverse opinions and perspectives. I recommend Never Split the Difference for just for anybody who’s trying to do anything.
For example, if you want to negotiate a better salary or make an argument for using a particular technology over another, this book is going to give you the tools to negotiate well.
8. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
Pre-Suasion is one of those books that changes your perspective on the world. It focuses on how to set up situations so that you can be more persuasive in your discussions. When you read this book, it helps you see the world through the frame of persuasion, and you can see that things that you don’t think are persuasion can actually convince people to agree with your ideas.
If you do any kind of marketing or negotiating with anybody, this book will give you the tools to be more persuasive even if you don’t have a natural understanding of those skills.
What Else Is Worth Reading and Watching?
Technology changes fast, and there’s always something new to learn. Beyond books, I like to check out software conference talks on YouTube and see what looks interesting.
Hacker News, run by the startup incubator Y Combinator, is a great place to get the latest information from other users on things like programming, cybersecurity, 3D printing and other tech topics. It’s a great resource for spotting emerging industry trends and deciding what you’d like to learn about next.
What’s next on your to-learn list? Check out these HostGator blogs:
10 Places That Teach You How to CodeHow to Learn WordPress: 14 Online Courses, Blogs, and Video Tutorials23 Blogs and Podcasts to Help You With Your Side Hustle
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The post Benefits of VPS Hosting appeared first on HostGator Blog.
When you’re in the market for hosting, you’re going to have a lot of things to consider. You have to choose the right type of hosting, the plan that’ll align with your website needs, and pour through a myriad of different features.
But, choosing the right type of hosting for your website is probably the most important decision.
One form of hosting you’ve probably come across is VPS hosting. This unique form of hosting can provide a lot of tangible benefits to certain types of websites.
The use of VPS hosting has exploded and for good reason.
Once you’ve outgrown shared hosting and are looking for a flexible and robust hosting solution, then VPS might be the perfect fit for your needs.
Below we’re going to look into what VPS hosting is, how it differs from other forms of hosting, and finally, we dive into the benefits, so you can decide if this form of hosting is right for your needs.
What is VPS Hosting?
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. That might not mean much to you yet, but it’ll make sense in a bit.
The main feature of VPS hosting is the virtual aspect. It relies upon virtualization technology, which creates a virtual server on top of an existing physical server. So, you have a single physical server, and this is divided up into multiple virtual servers.
These virtual servers operate entirely separate from one another. They all have their own dedicated server resources. So, you won’t have to share your RAM, CPU, or storage with other websites, even though you still might be on the same physical server.
Compare this to shared hosting, where you’re sharing a physical server with potentially thousands of other websites. Plus, there’s a chance that other websites can end up negatively impacting your site when you’re using a shared server.
Essentially, a VPS will act similar to a dedicated server. But, it’s much cheaper, which makes it more accessible to a variety of different website owners.
You can think of VPS hosting like living in a high-rise apartment complex.
The overall structure of the building is being shared between every apartment in the building. But, each apartment is completely isolated from one another. You can customize your space however you see fit, and you won’t have any issues with other apartments impacting your space.
In this scenario, the physical server you’re all sharing is the physical structure of the building while each apartment is an individual VPS server.
The shared foundation of VPS hosting helps to keep costs lower, while still offering you the same benefits that a dedicated server can provide.
How Does VPS Hosting Work?
With VPS hosting the virtual server environment emulates a traditional physical server. With virtualization technology (mentioned above) the physical server is broken up into multiple virtual servers via a partition.
Each of these partitions operates as a virtual server that allows each user to install their own operating system, software, and more. Just as you would a traditional dedicated server. This type of partition is similar to when you partition your personal computer to run multiple operating systems, like Windows and Mac. Each operating system functions in a container in complete isolation from the other OS.
Even though a VPS server is virtual, it operates in the same fashion as a physical server. So, you don’t have to worry about issues with other sites impacting your website.
Hosting your website on a VPS gives you access to a guaranteed level of server resources that you’ll never have to split between other users.
VPS vs Shared and Dedicated Hosting
Before we cover the benefits of VPS hosting, let’s see how it compares to other forms of hosting:
With shared hosting you’re splitting the cost of a server with hundreds of other users. This form of hosting is very easy to use and is well suited towards beginners, but there are some drawbacks.
For instance, there’s a chance that another site on the same server can use more than its share of server resources, leading to issues with your site. Shared hosting can also only support your site to a certain size and volume of traffic.
With dedicated hosting, you have access to an entire physical server. You can host a single website on this server, or use it for multiple properties you manage. Dedicated hosting provides you with incredible levels of power, performance, storage, and security.
However, dedicated hosting is also the most expensive form of hosting, since you’re not splitting server costs. It also requires a higher level of technical expertise, since you’ll also be responsible for managing your own server.
7 Benefits of VPS Hosting
We’ve already alluded to a few of the VPS hosting benefits above. But now it’s time to go deep into the tangible benefits your website will receive once you upgrade to VPS hosting.
Here are the most significant benefits that VPS hosting will provide:
1. Improved Performance
As your site grows in size and your traffic levels continue to climb, you’re going to need a host that supports your website. You’ll want lightning-fast loading speeds, no matter how much traffic your site receives.
If your site’s traffic levels have been growing, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, it’s time to choose a hosting plan that’s right for your website at its current stage and into the future.
A VPS plan could be exactly what you’re looking for. With VPS hosting, you’ll have more server resources at your disposal, so you can support growing levels of traffic while maintaining a speedy website.
2. Greater Storage and Bandwidth
With VPS hosting you’ll have access to very high levels of storage and bandwidth. This will help improve both performance (mentioned above) and reliability (mentioned below).
If you’re migrating from a shared hosting plan, then you’ll be blown away by the amount of server space you have. The high levels of bandwidth can also support very high volumes of traffic without a hitch.
This added space and bandwidth can support sites with hundreds of blog posts, media-rich multimedia sites, and a lot more.
Here’s a quick look at the RAM, CPU, disk space, and bandwidth offered on the VPS plans here at HostGator:
3. Higher Levels of Reliability
Shared hosting can be great when you’re just getting started online. But, due to the sheer volume of websites that are packed onto a single shared server, you might eventually run into issues with uptime.
Although shared servers today have done away with a lot of past issues. It still isn’t the best choice if you’re looking for high uptime and performance.
With a VPS, you’re the only website using the server’s resources. So, the only uptime issues you’ll run into will be from choosing a low-quality hosting provider or exceeding the current resources of your plan.
4. Greater Server Control and Customization
Most VPS hosting plans offer you higher levels of server control and customization. So, if you require a unique operating system or a server setup that isn’t supported on a shared hosting plan, then VPS could be the right fit.
You also get root access to the server (similar to dedicated hosting), so you essentially begin with a blank slate and can customize your server to your exact website specifications.
This is a must-have for certain websites that require a unique software or server setup.
Some types of websites, like eCommerce sites, might benefit from having VPS hosting right from the very beginning. A lot of eCommerce sites use software or require more strict security protocols that might not be compatible with shared hosting setups.
VPS hosting ensures that you can customize your hosting setup to perfectly match your website’s unique requirements.
5. Ability to Scale Your Server Setup
VPS hosting is also pretty scalable. So, if your site traffic levels are trending upwards, you can trust on VPS hosting to be able to grow with you.
Compare this to other forms of hosting, like shared hosting, where once you reach the limits of your plan, you’ll have to upgrade to another type of hosting entirely.
With VPS hosting all it takes is the click of a button to add more resources to your server. Plus, it’s easier to scale your server resources up and down. So, you can scale up when you’re running a promotion, or during the busy holiday season, and scale back down when traffic levels return to normal.
If you have variable traffic levels, of a site whose traffic continues to grow, then VPS hosting might be your best bet.
6. Cheaper When Compared to Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting is typically some of the most expensive hosting across the board, which makes it inaccessible to a lot of website owners. But, VPS hosting can provide you with the same level of features, without the substantial financial investment.
You might not get as large of a server, but for most website owners, this will be more than enough.
With dedicated hosting, you end up paying for the entire server no matter what percentage of the server’s resources you’re currently using. But, with VPS hosting, you have greater control over the resources of the server, so you’ll only end up paying for the resources you’re currently using.
This makes it more cost-effective than dedicated hosting, even beyond the initial monthly price point.
7. Have Support From a Skilled Tech Team
Running your site on a VPS server is a little more technical in nature. It’s a step up from shared hosting, which is incredibly easy to manage on your own.
If you run into an issue with your server, or your site goes offline for a mysterious reason you’ll want to ensure there’s a quality support team that can help you out.
Most VPS hosting providers will have a technical support team that can assist you. However, some providers also offer advanced technical support just for their VPS customers.
No matter your technical proficiency it can be helpful to have a support team to rely upon when you need it the most.
8. Higher Levels of Security
Since you’re going to be the only website who’s using a single physical server you’re going to have higher levels of security right out of the gate. And that’s just the beginning. You’ll also have the opportunity to install custom security software, firewalls, and whatever other security features you desire to turn your website into a fortress.
VPS hosting is known for its higher levels of security. Typically, it’s on par with dedicated hosting, which can offer you some of the most secure hosting around.
Of course, a lot of your website’s security has to do with how secure your actual website is too. So, even with a super secure host, you’ll need to implement website security best practices.
Is VPS Hosting Right for Me?
Most users who outgrow their initial shared hosting plans will upgrade to VPS hosting. This form of hosting gives you more control over your hosting environment, along with added server storage and bandwidth. With this you can easily support larger sites that get high volumes of traffic.
However, some site owners may need VPS hosting from the start. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce website, or a site that requires higher levels of security, then it makes sense to start with VPS hosting right from the start.
But, most website owners will grow into VPS hosting. Once you’ve reached the limits of shared hosting and are noticing a decline in performance, then it’s time to upgrade. Unless you have the budget and need for a dedicated server, VPS will probably be your best option.
Here’s a quick recap of the benefits your site will receive when upgrading to VPS hosting:
A faster and more reliable server for high uptime and fast loading speeds.Access to a guaranteed amount of server resources.The ability to scale your server resources up as your site grows.Isolation from other websites, so another website will never negatively impact yours.Improved levels of security and server customization.
Hopefully, you have a thorough understanding of VPS hosting and the benefits it can provide your website, so you’re well equipped to decide whether or not this style of hosting is right for you.
Contact HostGator today to learn more about our VPS hosting plans.
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The post How to Create a Coming Soon Page for Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.
When you’re building a new website or online store, there’s a lot that needs to happen behind the scenes before it’s ready for the world. You don’t want to have to wait until launch to start marketing and building interest, which makes a coming soon page a very valuable asset to have.
With a coming soon page you can create an enticing page that is ready to show to the world. This page serves as the face of your website while you’re busy building behind the scenes.
Coming soon pages give you a way to build buzz, grow an email list, and even test ideas before the official launch day comes.
Below you’ll learn about what a coming soon page is, and a handful of reasons and scenarios where you’ll want to build one. Finally, you’ll learn how you can quickly and easily build a coming soon page in WordPress, step-by-step.
What is a Coming Soon Page?
First, we’ll get started with a little clarification, as you’ll hear coming soon pages referred to by multiple names.
There are two different types of coming soon pages:
The first is a traditional coming soon page, which tells your visitors that a new website, app, store, or project is launching soon. The second is a maintenance page. This lets your visitors know that your site is currently undergoing routine maintenance or technical difficulties.
Sometimes maintenance pages can be used when you’re making visual changes to your site as well. Instead of making these changes to a live website, you put up a maintenance mode page until the changes are complete.
You may also hear coming soon pages referred to as pre-launch pages.
But, no matter what words you’re using to describe your page, they all serve the same general purpose: to help garner interest, gain user feedback, collect email addresses, and give visitors a place to go while your website is being developed or updated.
Unlike other pages on your site, coming soon pages are temporary. They’re like an appetizer you can offer your visitors while the real meal is being made.
For example, here’s a simple coming soon page created with the SeedProd Coming Soon plugin for a website that could currently be under construction:
Here’s another super simple coming soon page created with the same WordPress plugin. You’ll notice that your coming soon page doesn’t have to be incredibly in-depth to be effective:
Reasons to Use a Coming Soon Page
A coming soon page gives you a temporary way to send traffic to your website while you’re busy in the backend building it.
As you’ll soon learn, coming soon pages serve a variety of purposes, from giving you peace of mind while working on your site, to helping generate leads, assist with the website migration process, and let you easily test new ideas.
Here are a handful of the most common reasons you’ll want to use a WordPress coming soon page:
1. Generating Leads Before Launch
The last thing you want to hear when you launch your website to the world is crickets. You can avoid this fate by strategically building an audience while your website is still under construction.
One of the best ways to do this is to start building an email list before you launch.
A coming soon page is a fantastic way to do this. Since it’s basically a landing page, you can offer an incentive for people to join your list (more on this below). Then, you can start building a relationship with your new subscribers right away through email.
2. Building Up Buzz and Hype
If you don’t have an existing audience or following to tap into when you launch, you can use your coming soon page to build this initial hype.
For example, maybe you use your coming soon page to host a compelling giveaway, or you give away some great resources in exchange for an email address or social media post.
Essentially, a coming soon page presents an idea. If your idea is compelling enough and you give your visitors a reason or incentive to share, you can naturally build hype around your launch—even if you’re starting with no audience.
3. Testing Website or Product Ideas Quickly
You can create a coming soon page rather quickly. Depending on your existing WordPress skills, you can have a coming soon page live in a couple of hours.
Then, with this skeleton of a product or idea created you can start sending traffic to it to see how people react.
If you’re not sure about the direction you want to take with your website, or you have a few different branding ideas, then this can be a fast way to test them and get real-world feedback.
This way you know that when you launch your website you’re building something that people want, and not something you “think” people want. This will make a big difference in the success of your website.
Alternative Uses for a Coming Soon Page
Beyond the main reasons above there are two alternative reasons you’ll want to use a coming soon or maintenance page.
1. Using a Coming Soon Page During Site Migration
Coming soon pages can be used during a website migration. For example, let’s say you built your site using a website builder, but now you want to switch over to WordPress.
If you want to start building your WordPress site but don’t want to take down your current site until it’s complete, then you can use a coming soon page to bridge the gap.
The process for this is pretty simple. You install WordPress on your new site and install a coming soon page plugin (we discuss this in the final section). Then, you can build your new site completely in the background. You’ll have full access to the WordPress dashboard and the theme customization options.
Once you’re finished building your new site, just turn off the coming soon plugin, and forward your domain that’s pointing to your old site to your new one.
This process allows for a seamless and stress-free site migration experience.
2. Creating a WordPress Staging Environment
Another use of a coming soon plugin is when you’re doing routine maintenance or making changes to your site that you don’t want your visitors to see.
So, instead of trying to make these changes during the light of day you can activate a coming soon plugin and create a simple page that lets your visitors know you’re making changes to your site, and it’ll be back online soon.
Before you make changes to your site, one thing worth doing is installing a staging area plugin. This allows you to essentially create a cloned version of your site that you can work on.
With this kind of plugin activated, you can test out new changes without affecting your original site. You can also preview any changes in real-time. This gives you the freedom to test out design ideas and implement new features without the fear of breaking your existing site.
Some popular WordPress staging area plugins include WP Staging, Duplicator, and WP Stagecoach.
What Should You Include in a Coming Soon Page?
Coming soon pages look different depending on their purpose. For example, if you’re trying to gauge interest for a new website you’re launching, this will look different than a maintenance mode page.
However, regardless of the purpose, most coming soon pages will have some similar elements.
Here are the most common elements of a coming soon page:
A message that announces what, exactly, is coming soon Your website logo and a color scheme that matches your brandingA timeline of when this project will go live, maybe even with a countdown timer to launchA sign-up form to collect visitor email addresses before launchLinks to anywhere else you can be found online, like social media profiles, or existing projects
Let’s break down the details of some of these sections:
What’s actually “coming soon” and why does it matter?
Coming soon pages, when done the right way, can be incredibly valuable. They not only allow you to build buzz before you launch your website, but they can also give you feedback into whether or not your idea is worth pursuing.
Make sure your page offers enough information so that your visitors know what’s coming soon. Curiosity can be a great way to get people intrigued about your new project, but they’ll need enough information to be curious in the first place.
For example, is it a website that will help gardeners find the best natural products for their gardens? Or maybe you’re creating a website that shows dog owners how to best care and train their pets?
Whatever your idea you’ll want to have a compelling headline, along with a brief description.
Ask yourself, why would this website matter for these new visitors? What’s in it for them?
By teasing your idea you’ll be able to get valuable feedback from your visitors before launch. This will help with your positioning, messaging, and even design before you launch the final version of your site.
Finally, it can be helpful to include a countdown timer. Nearly every WordPress coming soon plugin will give you the ability to add a countdown timer to your site. These timers can help to build buzz and give your visitors something to look forward to.
Also, if you’re using your coming soon page to generate leads, then this timer can give people a deadline to join your list. This leads us to the next section.
Generate leads by offering an incentive
Adding an email signup form to your coming soon page is a great way to start building your list before you launch. However, if a visitor is already checking out your coming soon page you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure they stick around.
A great way to do this is to offer an incentive for a visitor to join. For example, in exchange for their email you could offer things like:
Access to early bird pricing (if you’re opening an eCommerce store)A free guide or set of resourcesA free coaching or consulting sessionThe chance to win a contest (if you’re running a giveaway)
Once you get their email list you can stay in touch with them, ask for feedback on your idea, inform them about the launch timeline, and more.
By building an email list before you even launch you can avoid launching to a crowd of zero. Instead, you’ll have a ton of people excited about your new project and can help to spread the word.
Give visitors a way to get in touch and spread the word
You don’t have to wait until you launch to get valuable feedback from your visitors. Right from the very start, you should encourage your visitors to get in touch with you to share any questions, ideas, or concerns.
By opening this line of dialogue early on you can improve the quality of your website and ensure you’re building something your visitors want.
This can be as simple as including your email on the coming soon page. Or, you can engage in dialogue later on, if you collect their email address.
These initial people to support your project can be your biggest advocates in getting the word out. So, you’ll want to treat them like gold.
Another element you might want to add is a way for your visitors to share your coming soon page with their audience. This can be as simple as having a handful of social media icons. Or, try offering an incentive for sharing, such as entry into a contest you’re running.
How to Create a Coming Soon Page in WordPress
By now you should be well versed in what goes into a WordPress coming soon page. You should have a thorough understanding of what you’re going to include on your page, as well as what the overarching goal for your page will be.
Here’s how you can create your own coming soon page in WordPress:
1. Find the Perfect WordPress Coming Soon Page Plugin
When you’re using WordPress there are always a dozen plugins you can choose from for any task you want to accomplish, or feature you want to add.
For adding a coming soon page to your site one of the best is called Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd. This plugin has both a free and premium version and has all the features you need to create an epic coming soon page. You can even use this plugin to create a simple website maintenance mode page as well, if that’s your goal.
This plugin will help you quickly create a coming soon page on WordPress. You can even customize the page with CSS if you want it to match the design of your new site.
For the rest of this tutorial we’ll be using the Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd plugin, so to follow along you’ll want to use the same plugin.
However, there are some alternatives that provide comparable features like the Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode and the Nifty Coming Soon plugins.
2. Install and Activate the Plugin
To install the plugin you’ll need to login to your WordPress dashboard. Once you’re in the backend of your site navigate to Plugins>Add New.
Then, click ‘Add New’ and search for Coming Soon SeedProd, and install the plugin that looks like the one below.
Once the plugin is activated you can access the plugin settings by clicking on the ‘SeedProd’ icon on the left-hand side of your dashboard. If you have a lot of plugins installed, you might have to scroll to find it.
3. Configure Your Settings
For the sake of this tutorial, we’re using the free version of the SeedProd plugin, which will be more than enough for most users. However, if you want access to even more features, then you can upgrade to the premium version as well.
The first thing we’ll do is navigate to the ‘Design’ tab. Here we can customize how the coming soon page will look. At the top, you’ll notice the theme selection options (note that this is only available for those using the pro version).
If you scroll down you’ll notice Background, Content, and Text options. By customizing these we can set a background image or color, set the content width, and text colors. If you know CSS, then you can add that to truly customize your page.
Once you’re satisfied with the design, let’s move over to the ‘Content’ tab.
This is where we’ll be adding the logo, page headline, and content. Spend some time with this section as this is the most important aspect of your coming soon page. Create a compelling headline and body copy that entices your visitors to learn more and get excited about your project.
You can also embed an email sign up form into this section as well. However, you’ll need to embed it with a shortcode or HTML form, as the free version isn’t equipped with integration abilities right out of the box (for instant integration, simply upgrade to the Pro version).
Finally, at the bottom of this tab, you can optimize the SEO settings for your page. This is how your coming soon page will show up in the search engines. Although the chances of ranking are pretty low (on a brand new website), it can be helpful if you’re going to have your coming soon page up for a while.
You can add your Google Analytics code to this section as well. This can be helpful if you’re going to be trying a ton of different traffic generation methods and you want to see which marketing approach is the most effective.
4. Enable Your Coming Soon Page
Once you’re satisfied with the design of your page and the copy, it’s time to make it live.
To do this you’ll need to be back in the ‘Content’ tab. Then, under the ‘General’ box select the ‘Enable Coming Soon Mode’ option.
You might have noticed that once you turn this option on, nothing changes in the backend. But, now whenever someone comes to your site all they’ll be able to see and access is the coming soon page.
When you’re logged into your site you’ll be able to see the version of the site that you’re working on. So, if you want to see what your visitors see when they access your site, then you’ll need to log out and maybe even view your site through an Incognito browser tab.
With a coming soon page enabled, you now have the freedom and time to build your site as you see fit. Let your coming soon page do the work for you, while you build your perfect website in the backend.
Once you’re finished with your design, just return to the same tab and turn the option to ‘Disabled’ and your site will be available for the world to see. Alternatively, you can also deactivate and uninstall the plugin.
Moving Forward with Your Own Coming Soon Page
As you can see, a coming soon page can be a very valuable addition to your website. It gives you time to build your site as you see fit. You won’t feel rushed to build your site or make design changes while the world can see your site.
Plus, by using a coming soon page the right way you can help to build buzz for your new project, generate leads before launch, and even make the website migration process less stressful.
For this tutorial we used the free version of the SeedProd Coming Soon plugin. However, you can use any plugin you wish that has similar features. The specific plugin you choose doesn’t matter as much as it having the features you require and you being able to use it easily.
You’re now ready to unlock the power of a coming soon page for your website. Hopefully, the tips above will get you moving in the right direction and one step closer to your website building dreams!
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The post HostGator Customer Spotlight: Afie Braimoh of SACFruits appeared first on HostGator Blog.
While many of HostGator’s customers have high passion levels for their side projects, we know it’s also true that the daily grind can be tough, especially after working a regular, perhaps dull, 9-5 job. It can be challenging to take those initial steps to get started when all you want to do is veg out and watch the latest and greatest on Netflix.
If you’re thinking about starting a killer side hustle, you need a website. And we’ve got some inspiration from one of our favorite HostGator success stories, Afie Braimoh, creator of the SACFruits business and website.
Who Is Afie Braimoh of SACFruits?
We first learned about Afie Braimoh and her company SACfruits when she entered her story in our Side Hustle Star Awards. And dude, were we impressed! (In fact, Afie won the contest!)
Afie worked hard to develop an excellent global health product, dried fruit from West African fruit. The product is tasty, 100% natural, and perfect for anyone at any time and on any day.
What is even more exciting about Braimoh’s business—even more than the pure deliciousness of her product—is how she decided to start her side hustle.
How Afie Got Started With Her Side Hustle
She started her health food side hustle while living in Nigeria after seeing so many West African farmers slip into poverty due to too much food waste.
Afie explains how her side hustle helps fight poverty in Africa. “I market and distribute dried fruit snacks from West Africa. I saw the poverty in the farmers because their fruits would simply rot away because of bad access to roads to get their goods to the market, so I started this side hustle. I have also built a very strong relationship with farmers across Nigeria, and have invested in some of their crops like mango trees and pineapple farms.”
The SACFruits side hustle started small. Afie began by trying out her recipes and says, “I purchased a dehydrator and started drying fruits in season. Then I started sampling parties that comprised of friends, work colleagues, and family as well.”
Then, Afie went through the process of getting FDA approval and launched SACFruits on Amazon in January 2019, and continues to see her business grow.
Afie Braimoh knew her side hustle would be successful when she continually saw the global health trend on TV, social media, and expos where people are concerned about what they eat.
Her dedication and belief in her side hustle show when you look at her results. “I spend every evening combing through websites learning ways to distribute this product. I am slowly identifying traditional and unique ways. I launched at the Macy’s Market, a supermarket in Miami, and also a coffee shop in NY. Given my full-time job, this has been a leap,” according to Braimoh.
What Challenges Did Afie Braimoh Overcome?
Starting a side hustle isn’t all roses and daisies. It can be difficult, and some side hustlers may get stuck and want to give up from time to time.
We asked Afie what challenges she experienced with running a business internationally. Her answers included figuring out shipping costs, delivering goods on time for large orders, and understanding exchange rates.
“It’s tough getting funding for a small business,” says Afie. “But, I constantly use my salary to cover my small business expenses including constantly advertising online. I am working with just one distributor who has a day job but believes in my products. I continue to manage my expenses as much as I can by being the only employee for the business for now. Everything is scaled back to be able to meet my expenses.”
Even though she experienced several challenges, Afie also said she never wanted to give up during the process, and she plans to quit her full-time job in the future.
Afie urges other side hustlers not to give up either. She tells fellow side hustlers to “stay focused and be passionate about what you do. The most successful people today have passion.”
While Afie experienced some initial challenges in getting her business off the ground, building a website with HostGator was not one of them. We asked Afie why she chose HostGator to host and build her website.
She said she has been impressed with HostGator because of the “reliability and responsiveness” of our hosting platform.
Whatever type of business you’re looking to start and no matter how much web experience you may have, HostGator can help you get online. Our flexible platform allows you to quickly start a website and scale your web hosting package as your business grows. For example, the drag-and-drop Gator Website Builder makes it possible for even the first-timer to create a professional website.
If you already have a side hustle in mind, we would love to help you get your website up and running. Thankfully, the process is easy. Here is a quick tutorial on how you can build a website today. We can’t wait to see you get started.
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The post How to Use Sidebars and Widgets in WordPress [Ultimate Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Around a third of all websites in the world are built on WordPress, and for good reason. It’s easy to use and extremely customizable.
But that doesn’t mean someone that’s inexperienced at running a website will naturally know how to manage the main types of functionality available with WordPress. It still has a learning curve.
For website owners working to get more out of their WordPress sites, widgets are a useful feature you’ll likely want to take advantage of. And sidebars are one of the most common types of widgets.
This post will help you gain an understanding of what WordPress widgets and sidebars are, and how to use them on your own website—even if you’re starting out as a total newbie.
What Are WordPress Widgets?
Widgets are one of the tools available to WordPress website owners for easily customizing your site. They allow you to add sections to your web pages that include set types of content and features. You can add a widget to one page specifically, or use them to update the overall template or website structure used across pages.
Some common examples of features you can add to your WordPress site via widgets are:
Sidebars (more on that in a bit)A search barAn automatically generated list of recent blog posts (like the one on the right side of this page)A list of your most popular blog postsA navigation menuAn image galleryAn audio playerEmbedded videoA calendarA blogroll of links to sites you recommendRecent comments
As you can see, a lot of the common elements you see on websites around the web can be added and managed using WordPress widgets.
How to Add a Widget in WordPress
Adding a new widget to your WordPress website is fairly easy, and you have a few different ways you can go about it.
Option 1: Adding a Widget in the Widgets Section
When logged into WordPress, select Appearance in the menu on the left side of the screen, then Widgets.
If you already have any widgets on your site, those will show up on the right side of the page. On the left, you’ll see a list of the widget options that come included with WordPress, or with your WordPress theme.
Scroll through the list until you see the type of widget you want. Click on it, select where on your site you’d like it to go (your default options likely include footer and sidebar).
You can also click on the widget you want to add, and drag it to the section on the right side of the page where you want it to go (e.g. drag and drop to Sidebar, if that’s where you want to add it).
Either way, you’ve now added a widget to your website!
The widget box will provide details on what customizations options you have based on the type of widget it is. For example, a widget for recent posts will let you choose how many recent posts to show and choose whether to show the post’s date in the sidebar.
Make your choices, fill in the appropriate information, and check your website to make sure it looks the way you want.
Option 2: Adding a Widget in the Customize Section
Our second main option for adding a widget to your website is by clicking on Appearance and Customize. This option will let you preview how your site will look as you make changes to it.
Select Widgets in the menu on the left side of the page. You’ll see the list of places on your website where you can add a widget. Click on the one you want, then select Add a Widget.
You’ll see a list of options for the different types of widgets you can add. Select the type you want, then fill in the details to customize it the way you want. You can check that it looks the way you want it to in the view on the right side of the screen before you save the change. If you like what you see, click the Publish button in the top left.
More Useful Things to Know About Widgets in WordPress
That covers the steps you need to take to add a widget, but there are a few questions you may have along the way. Here are some useful facts:
Your options depend on your theme. The default sections you see for where a widget can be added (e.g. sidebar, footer) will vary based on the WordPress theme you’ve used. The same thing goes for the widget options that will be included in the list for you. Customization options depend on the widget type. Each type of widget will have a box that includes some basic options for what you want the widget to look like and do. That may include adding text or an image, or it may be as simple as deciding whether to click a box or two. You can define where the widget shows up with Visibility. If you only want your widget to show up on some pages and not others, clicking on the Visibility button in the widget box will open up some options to control when and where the widget shows up. You have additional options with widget plugins. If you don’t see any widgets in the list available to you that match what you want to add to the page, the WordPress plugin library extends your options considerably.
What Are WordPress Sidebars?
Sidebars are one of the most common types of widgets people use in WordPress. They control the content that shows up on the side of the web page. Many of the websites you visit have content on the right side of the page that’s set apart from the body of the page (the central part).
For example, we use a sidebar on the HostGator blog:
Often, you’ll see the same information there across different pages on the site. If the website was built on WordPress, that information is added and managed via sidebar widgets.
How to Add A Sidebar in WordPress
When you follow the instructions provided above for adding widgets in WordPress, with most themes, you’ll see the option to add widgets to a sidebar. But if your theme doesn’t already have one, or you want to create a custom sidebar for some pages or sections of your WordPress site, you can add one.
All you do is select Widgets in the Appearance section of the menu, then click “Create a new sidebar” at the top of the page.
Fill in the details requested in the form. Click on Sidebar Location to establish where your sidebar will show up. Then add widgets to customize the information you want the sidebar to display.
Get Started with Widgets and Sidebars on Your WordPress Site
WordPress can be extremely powerful, if you know how to use it. Adding widgets and sidebars to your site immediately extends the functionality available to you, and gives you a lot more room to customize your website to fit your needs.
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The post What Is A Website Builder? appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Building a website used to require learning how to code, but those days are in the past. Now, anybody can easily create a new website using a website builder.
Whether you own a small business or you are looking to create your own blog, website builders make it so you don’t have to hire a web designer to have a professionally designed site. If you are wondering, “What is a website builder?” you have come to the right place.
But, hearing that website builders are easy to use doesn’t mean you just automatically know what a website builder is, or how one works. Website builders make it easy for users to make their own website with little effort or coding skills. By using this platform, anyone can achieve a professionally designed site without using a web designer.
If you’re ready to get your website off the ground, but are stuck at the step of figuring out how to use a website builder, we walk you through the main steps you need to know.
10 Steps to Use a Website Builder
Each website builder will work a little differently. To learn the unique details of using the particular website builder you choose, you’ll want to consult the company’s educational materials.
But most of the main website builders available today have some similarities in how they work. These ten steps will cover the basics.
1. Choose your website builder.
There are a lot of different website builders on the market, so you have options. Wading through the available choices can be overwhelming. But the good news is that you can find an affordable website builder today that packs the functionality you need to create a professional-looking website.
Look for a website builder that offers:
Ease of use – You should be able to use it from day one without a steep learning curve. Look for drag-and-drop functionality and a website editor designed for beginners. Because of the user-friendly interface and tools, business owners and bloggers alike can easily get their site up and running in no time.Customer support – The moment you need help, you want to know you can reach out to someone willing and equipped to provide it.Lots of website template options – Building your website with a website builder is much easier if you can start with a template you like, so make sure the website builder you go with has a solid library of website templates to choose from.Mobile compatibility – Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional. A good website builder will make it easy to create a website that looks good on mobile.Affordability – Website builders cost anywhere from $4-$25 a month. Figure out your budget, so you select one you can afford over the long term.
Once you’ve selected your website builder, check out what educational resources the company provides to help you get up to speed on learning it. They likely offer tutorials or a tour to walk you through all the features. Taking a few minutes to review those resources on day one will make the process of building your site easier.
2. Select your website builder template.
Templates are a big part of what makes website builders easier to use than building a website from scratch. With a template, you get all the basic structure and design of your website into place right away. Then all you have to do is tweak what’s already there to bring it in line with your vision for your site.
If you can find a template that comes pretty close to what you want your website to look like, the work of customizing it will be that much simpler.
To help you find the right template, here are a few things to consider:
Was it designed with your industry in mind? Many website builders provide templates categorized by industry or website type. Someone building a website for their coffee shop will get a headstart if they’re able to use a coffee shop website template. Check first to see if your website builder provides a template that’s specific to the type of website you’re building, as it could make your job a lot easier. Is it responsive? If you’re not familiar with the term, a responsive website is one that automatically changes to fit the size of the screen it loads on. If you start out with a responsive template, creating a website that works well on mobile devices will be much more straightforward, since the work is mostly already done for you.Is the basic structure in line with what I want? Pay attention to things like the layout of the home page and the menu items. Switching out things like images and colors will usually be easier than re-working the template’s structure, so this is the most important part to get right. Do I like how it looks? While you can make a lot of visual changes to your template based on your personal preferences, you’ll end up doing less work to get your website in line with your aesthetic style if you like the design of it to begin with.
Browse the templates your website builder offers to find one that comes close to what you want your website to be.
3. Choose your website color scheme.
The colors you choose will be one of the defining visual features of your website. Thoughtfully consider which main colors you want your website to display. If you don’t have much experience creating a color scheme, there are free tools and websites that help you identify colors that look good together.
Coolers is an automatic color scheme generator. You pick a color you like, and it will rotate in different colors to show you how they look together. Canva also has a color wheel tool that lets you select a color you like, and see suggestions for colors that look good with it.
These resources all provide HTML color codes for the colors you select (the six-digit number and letter combo), so you should have no problem finding the colors within your website builder once you’ve decided which to go with.
4. Update the website template colors to match your scheme.
Use your website editor to sub in the colors currently in your template for the ones you chose in your color scheme. In the Gator Website Builder, you do this by clicking on the section of the page you want to change the color for, clicking on Style, choosing which part of the block you want to change (e.g. background, border, overlay), then selecting your new color.
You can easily pull up a specific color by clicking on More Colors, then entering the color code next to where it says HEX.
If you’re using another website builder, the exact steps for changing out each web page’s colors will differ, but will likely be similar to this process.
5. Determine what pages to add to your website.
Figure out what pages your website needs. Most websites will want at least a home page and about page. If your website is for a business, you’ll want to add pages for each of the services you offer or products you sell. If you’re starting a site to share your content with the world, add a blog or visual gallery.
Create a plan for the specific pages you want to include on your website, and determine which are the most important. Your priority pages need to be especially easy for visitors to navigate to, which usually means including them on the main menu which shows up on every page of your website.
To create a new page in Gator, click on Pages on the menu on the left-side of the screen. Then you have two options: you can either duplicate the page you have open by clicking the icon with x2 on it, or add a new page by clicking on the icon with the + on it.
Duplicating a page is often the easiest option, since the new one will maintain the color scheme and any other details you filled in on your first page. If you choose to add a new page, you’ll be provided a number of templated options based on the type of page you’re creating (an about page, and ecommerce one, etc.).
6. Upload your images to the website builder.
Some of the images on your template may work just fine for your purposes, but chances are, you’ll need to load in some images of your own to make the site truly yours.
In Gator, you can tap into a free library of stock images. Simply click on the image you want to change, select Change Image, and choose Stock Images from the menu.
The images are helpfully divided into categories so you can more easily hone in on the ones relevant to your site.
To upload an image of your own, click on Add Images, and Upload Images.
Do this on each page of the site, for every image you want to include.
7. Add text and copy to your pages.
Your template will have some generic copy included as a place filler. While there are parts of your template it’s okay to keep, the copy it comes with is not one. Each page of your website needs to have original copy that communicates something about your brand.
Some best practices to keep in mind when writing copy for your website are:
Prioritize your audience. It’s tempting to make your website copy all about you, but your site will resonate more with your visitors if you think about their needs first. That doesn’t mean your copy won’t communicate what you do (that’s kind of the point), but try to frame it in a way that focuses on how what you do helps solve their problems or make their lives better. Figure out your unique positioning. Take a little time to research other websites doing something similar to yours. Now think: what makes yours different? That’s your unique value proposition. Highlight what makes you special in your website copy, so visitors know why to stick around. Learn search engine optimization (SEO) basics – Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you increase your chances of ranking in the search engines when people look for what your website offers. Before you write your website copy, it’s worth learning the basics of SEO so you can incorporate best practices for on-site optimization into what you write on each page.
To change out your copy in Gator Website Builder, click on a text box on the page, highlight the text that’s there and either type out what you want to say in the box or paste in text that you’ve already written elsewhere. You can also choose the style and size of the font in the menu that shows up when you click on the text.
8. Explore other features of the website builder.
When most of us visit a website, the main things we notice are the copy and images. But each page typically includes a number of other elements. Some common examples are:
Buttons Social linksContact formsEmbedded mapsEmbedded videos
Most website builders will make these easy to add to your pages.
In Gator, Elements is the top option in the menu on the left side of the screen. When you click on it, you’ll see a menu with all the different types of elements you might want to add to a page.
Select the element you want to add, then click on the part of the page where you want it to show up. Each element will come with its own menu once you’ve added it to the page, so you can customize the details of it as needed.
9. Drag and drop everything into place.
You don’t have to keep the same page layout that’s provided in your template. Once you’ve decided on the different images, copy, and elements you want to include on your page, decide where you want everything to go.
To rearrange different parts of your page: click on the block you want to move, hold down your mouse, drag it to the new spot you want it in, and release your mouse to drop it there.
10. Test your website with the website builder “Preview” function.
Before you publish your website, you want to make sure it looks good. Any good website builder will have a Preview function, and some also provide an option for previewing how your site looks on mobile.
Go through your website thoroughly in preview mode. Test out every link. Proofread all your copy—you don’t want to let sloppy typos slip through. Make sure everything looks the way you want it to on both desktop and mobile.
Once you’re confident your website is done, click that Publish button.
Anyone Can Use a Website Builder
The point of website builders is to make it possible for anyone to create a website. Even if you’re a total newbie when it comes to website design, you can take advantage of website templates that were built by skilled designers and a visual editor designed to be intuitive for beginners. Website builders make it possible to carve out your unique space on the web and make it look just the way you want it to. Ready to get started? Check out Gator Website Builder and our web hosting services now to start building your dream website.
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The post How to Design a Logo for Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.
No website is complete without a logo.
Your logo is the main identifying emblem of your brand. It’s the symbol website visitors see first when they search for your company online. Your logo is what reminds people of what your brand represents.
Here’s an example of how powerful a logo can be in terms of brand awareness and recall.
If I mention McDonald’s, Nike, or Starbucks, you immediately conjure up an image of a yellow “M”, the Nike Swoosh, and a green siren. I don’t need to include a picture for your reference. You know what these logos look like.
Similarly, you can recognize these companies just by viewing the logo, and no descriptive words are necessary. For example, if you’re visiting Russia, you might not know how to read about a Starbucks on a local map, but you’ll immediately know you’re near a Starbucks when you spot the familiar green siren.
A logo is a necessary tool to help you solidify your brand and set yourself apart from your competitors. But, how do you go about designing the right logo for your website?This article will cover everything you need to design the perfect logo for your new website.
How to Brainstorm Your Website Brand Logo
Whether you design your website logo yourself or hire a graphic designer, you’ll need to dream up some ideas to act as a polestar. Here are some top tips to help you start off on the right foot.
1. Solidify your brand story
There are a million different directions you could go when it comes to creating a logo. Not every idea will be equally as effective. The best way to ensure you’re on the right track is to solidify your brand story before you start designing.
First, consider what your company’s mission is by asking yourself the following questions:
What are my goals?What values do I want to portray?What do I care about in relation to my brand?Who is my audience?What tone do I want to convey?
To answer these questions, make a list of words that describe your brand and how you want others to perceive your brand (e.g. trustworthy, fun, reliable, party town, professional, cheeky, etc.).
Also, make a list of how you want people to feel when they see your logo. Do you want them to feel peaceful, happy, excited, motivated, comforted, passionate, etc?
These lists will help you determine your mission and narrow down your ideas.
2. Brainstorm your logo ideas
Brainstorming comes next. Write down every potential color, symbol, shape, word, and adjective that fits in well with your website’s mission statement.
Try your best to get every idea out on paper, even if it sounds like a bad idea. Writing down everything that comes to mind will help spark more creativity and lead you down paths that will speak to you.
With brainstorming, two heads are better than one, and three are better than two. Ask other members of your company, or trusted loved ones, to help you with the brainstorming process.
Let your ideas simmer for a day or two, come back to the table, and select the idea that resonates best.
3. Create a design board that shows off your main idea
A good way to get started with the logo design process is to make an inspiration board. Create a board that includes images, color palettes, visual metaphors, words, pieces of art, textures, patterns, shapes, and letters that match with the main idea you selected after brainstorming.
As with brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. If you’re feeling it, put it on your design inspiration board.
Use this design board to guide you through the creative process. It will help you settle on the perfect type of website logo, shape, style, color, typography, patterns, and more.
How to Design Your Website Logo: 3 Tools and Resources to Use
Once you have a clear brand story, the main idea, and a design inspiration board, you’re ready to start designing your website logo yourself, or to present your ideas to a professional graphic designer.
Here are some top options for designing a website logo.
1. Hire a professional graphic designer
It’s true. Hiring a professional graphic designer is among the most expensive options for logo design. To get a good designer, it’ll cost you a pretty penny.
However, even if you’re on a budget, marketing your brand is not the place where you want to skimp. An unprofessional logo can set you back faster than almost anything else.
Again, your logo is the face of your company, the first interaction customers have with your brand, and one way customers will compare you to your competitors.
Hiring a professional ensures quality. A professional graphic designer will be able to take your ideas and come up with concepts that will blow you out of the water. They will also pay attention to the small details that make a difference in a good logo and a bad logo.
You can find a professional graphic designer by word of mouth, through a freelance content mill (Upwork or Freelancer), or by checking out individual freelancer’s websites.
2. Outsource to a graphic design platform
If you don’t have the budget to hire a freelance graphic designer, you still have plenty of excellent options. There are many graphic design hubs where you can crowdsource your design project.
99designs is a cool platform with a robust pool of creative designers. When you sign up with 99designs, you follow a simple process.
First, you pick a package that best describes the services you want. 99designs offers everything from simple logo design to logo design and a full brand identity pack.
Once you’ve selected your package, 99designs will prompt you to fill out a series of helpful questions. They will ask you to pick a series of logos that you like, provide information on your brand’s style, explore colors that best suit your needs, select a design package, and start a contest.
You will also be prompted to fill out a creative brief with the following information:
Email addressLanguageWhat name you want in your logoThe slogan you want in your logoA description of your organization or product does and its target audienceYour industry
After you’ve filled out all the necessary information, you can start a contest. When you start a contest, several designers will send multiple ideas for your business logo, and you get to choose your favorite.
If you love your logo, 99designs will charge your credit card for the price of the package you selected. If you don’t love any of the designs, no sweat off your back. 99designs provides a 100% money-back guarantee.
Pricing for logo design ranges from $299 to $1299.
If crowdsourcing isn’t your jam, you also have the option of selecting one 99designs professional to work on your project.
While 99designs is one of the most popular crowdsourcing hubs, there are other graphic design resources. You can also check out CrowdSPRING, DesignCrowd, or Logo Arena.
3. Design your logo yourself
If you have design skills, then you might want to opt to design your logo yourself. This will save you money and provide you with complete creative control.
If you already know how to use top logo design tools like Adobe InDesign, great. If not, keep in mind there is a staunch learning curve with Adobe design products, and you may want to seek out a free logo design option.
Arguably the best free graphic design platform on the internet is Canva.
Canva is an online tool that makes it easy to design anything, including logos. The platform is intuitive and provides a user-friendly drag and drop tool along with thousands of customizable templates. In fact, Canva currently has over 400 million designs, and that number is always growing.
Signing up for Canva is free. You can connect with an email address and a password or via your Facebook account.
Many of the templates are free to use, and you can customize them to your liking. There are also some designs that you can pay for, but the prices are extremely low (usually 0.99 cents for a design, image, or icon).
Not only can you design logos on Canva, but you can also design social media covers, presentations, posters, t-shirts, flyers, infographics—anything really.
You don’t even need to know the dimensions. All you have to do is type in the type of design you want (e.g. “Facebook cover”) and Canva will flesh out the right dimensions and provide you with a list of customizable templates.
Canva is so easy to use, you likely won’t need any additional training like you would with other design programs.
Time to Design Your Website Logo
Designing a solid logo for your website is an absolute must. It will help you build brand awareness and create an unmatched element of professionalism your website deserves.
While your logo design is something to outsource to a professional graphic designer, it’s important to remember you can do all your website design yourself with HostGator.
With HostGator’s Website Builder, you can choose from over 200 pre-designed, proven, and customizable templates. You don’t have to know how to code. All you have to do to get your website up and running is pick the template that works best, upload your logo, and use the easy drag and drop website builder.
For more information about how to get your website up and running, visit HostGator today.
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The post How to Customize a WordPress Theme for Your Brand appeared first on HostGator Blog.
WordPress is an incredibly popular CMS. It’s so popular that a third of the internet runs on WordPress.
One big reason is due to its flexibility. The easy-to-customize CMS can be used to build virtually any kind of website, from large-scale news websites to simple one-person blogs.
All you have to do is find a theme that speaks to you and aligns with your brand, then get busy customizing to create your unique website.
Below you’ll learn the ins and outs customizing your WordPress theme to align perfectly with your brand.
WordPress Themes: The Basics
Before we get into customizing your WordPress theme we’ll dive deep into the WordPress basics, and how customizations are handled within the platform.
With WordPress, you won’t be customizing the WordPress core. Instead, you’ll be making edits to what’s known as a WordPress theme. A theme is a collection of templates and CSS stylesheets which will create a unique design.
Sometimes WordPress themes also have collections of templates. These are pre-built versions of the theme that already have certain customizations, theme settings, and changes in place.
It all depends on the theme you’re using. For example, the theme GeneratePress has dozens of different templates you can install, which are configurations of the stock GeneratePress theme.
Generally, the terms WordPress theme and WordPress template are used interchangeably.
Choosing the Right WordPress Theme for You
Even though this post is going to show you how to customize your WordPress theme, it’s important that you start with a WordPress theme that has a final design you enjoy. That way you won’t have to make any large scale structural changes, but instead style-based changes to bring your brand to life.
With that being said, keep the following in mind when you select a WordPress theme:
1. Choose a Quality WordPress Theme
A poorly coded theme can have a detrimental effect on your website’s performance, appearance, and even leave it vulnerable to hackers. Even if you love the design of the theme, it won’t matter if it never loads.
Instead of looking through the codebase yourself–what would you even look for? Consider taking the following approach.
First, look for theme providers that have been on the market for years. Low-quality themes tend to fade out of the marketplace. Second, spend some time reading through the reviews. If there’s a ton of positive reviews about the quality of the theme, you can generally assume that it’s high-quality.
2. Understand Your Needs
The best theme for someone else might not be the best theme for you. Before you start browsing for the perfect theme take stock of your own needs and the type of features you’re looking for.
A theme that’s built for an eCommerce store will have very different features than a theme that’s built to showcase a photography portfolio.
With WordPress, you’ll be able to find themes built for specific niches like lawyers, accountants, boutique shops and more. On the other hand, you have all-in-one themes that can be customized to suit virtually any niche.
3. Look for Quality Support
If you’re purchasing a premium theme, then there should always be a dedicated and responsive support team that comes with. If possible, make sure they offer a method of support that suits your needs best. The most common forms of support include phone, email, and live chat.
If you’re going with a free theme, then you probably won’t receive the same level of support. But, you should still look through the WordPress.org support forums to see how frequently they respond to user requests.
Beyond support, you’ll want to ensure the theme is updated on a consistent basis. WordPress is continually evolving and the theme will need to be updated, patched, and have bugs fixed to remain functional.
Now that you have a foundational understanding of how customizations are made in WordPress and you have a solid theme, it’s time to start customizing.
What You Need Before You Start Customizing Your WordPress Theme
Before you start editing your WordPress theme you’ll want to have certain brand assets. With a solid website style guide in place, you’ll be able to design your site much faster and avoid things like mismatched colors.
Here’s a handful of different design elements you’ll want to have in place:
A finished logo. It can be helpful to have multiple versions and sizes, depending on what your theme requires.The list of colors you want to use across your site, including the HEX code, this will look something like #16336d.Any images and graphics you’re going to use across your site
Finally, you’ll want to have a general idea of how you want your site to look. For example, do you want to have a full-page slider underneath your logo? Do you want the header to be left-aligned with a menu to the right? Do you want a parallax-style scrolling homepage?
Spend some time looking at other competitor sites in your niche and pull out design trends and elements you like. This will help you choose a theme that’s in alignment with your design goals from the start, so you won’t have to make any huge changes to the layout of your theme.
How to Customize a WordPress Template
There are a multitude of different ways you can customize your WordPress site.
Below we cover the most common approaches to editing your WordPress site. Every method we highlight below is 100% beginner-friendly, no design or coding skills required.
1. Use the WordPress Customizer
WordPress has a built-in tool called Customizer, which lets you customize your site without having to make any changes to your site’s code. It’s not the most in-depth customization tool in the world, but it will help you make simple customizations, like changing your logo, layout, color scheme, and more.
You can access the tool by navigating to Appearance>Customize from within your WordPress dashboard.
Once you open up the Customizer you’ll have a menu on the left-hand side, which will show you what elements of your site you can edit.
The site elements you can change will depend upon the theme you’re using. However, you’ll typically be able to change the following things:
Logo and title. Here you’ll be able to upload a logo and change the size, change your site’s tagline, and more. General layout. Here you can make adjustments to your navigation menus, sidebars, headers and more. You can change the size and appearance of these layout elements. Color scheme. Here you can adjust the color scheme across your entire website, you can change body text color, header colors, link colors, background, and much more. Typography. In this section, you can change the typography across your site. Be careful not to get to font crazy and stick to two fonts across most of your site. Menus. Here you can add new menus to your site, choose where you want them to display, and even create new menus. Widgetized sections. The widget sections you’ll be able to customize will depend upon your theme. Here you can add new items to widgetized sections and customize these areas however you desire.
As you can see, the WordPress Customizer is pretty powerful and allows you to make a ton of changes to your site. Plus, the changes will appear in real-time, so you can see if you like the changes before you publish them live.
2. Use the Built-in WordPress Theme Customization Options
This customization option will differ depending on what theme you have installed. Some themes will have built-in options that will let you customize virtually every aspect of your theme, while others will be bare bones.
You’ll access these theme options from within your WordPress dashboard. You should have a section on the left-hand side that’s the same name as the theme you have installed.
Click this and you’ll be able to see which customization options your theme has available.
For example, here’s what the theme options panel looks like on the GeneratePress WordPress theme:
As you can see, there aren’t a lot of modifications you can make within the theme settings panel. Most of the site changes you’ll make with this theme will use the WordPress Customizer or the Elementor plugin (we highlight this below).
3. Make Changes via CSS
CSS is what controls the appearance of your site. Think of things like site colors, spacing, typography, and more. Your site’s CSS code controls more of the appearance of the site than your theme’s core files do.
Before you move forward, make sure that you’re not changing the core CSS file. It’s easy to make mistakes and compromise the design of your site.
Instead, use the WordPress Customizer if you want to make changes to your site. You can access the Customizer by following the steps in the first section, then select ‘Additional CSS’ from the bottom.
Here you can enter your CSS code to make changes to your site. These changes should show up automatically in your editor.
If you don’t want to use the Customizer, then you can make CSS changes to your site with a plugin like SiteOrigin CSS.
This plugin has some super useful features that make it much easier to edit your CSS, even if you’re a total beginner.
For example, it has a built-in inspector tool. This allows you to highlight certain portions of your site and see the exact CSS code you’ll need to make changes to.
There’s also a visual editor too. So, you can make CSS changes and see how they reflect in real-time. The editor also has advanced features that’ll help you write clean code that doesn’t have any errors.
Just install the plugin, and you’ll be able to start editing your CSS quickly and easily.
4. Use a WordPress Page Builder Plugin
WordPress page builder plugins add drag-and-drop functionality to WordPress. This is a common feature on a lot of other website builders on the market today (including the Gator Website Builder).
This makes it so beginners have complete control over the design of their site, without having to touch any code. As you add and rearrange certain website elements, the plugin will automatically create the underlying code.
WordPress has a ton of different page builder plugins you can use to add this functionality to your website.
Here are some of the most common:
Elementor Page Builder
Elementor is a drag and drop page builder that’s equipped with a live preview feature. It’s equipped with all kinds of features, from simple text widgets all the way up to unique sliders, testimonial sections, and more.
There are also pre-built templates you can add directly to your site and pages. Using these pre-built sections lets you customize your site in record time.
Beaver Builder is a very fast and easy to use drag and drop page builder. Just drag different site elements to the editor, and change any element via the built-in options panel.
It’s equipped with a ton of different site elements like content blocks, buttons, sliders, background options and more. It also has over 30 different templates that you can use to create website layouts super quickly.
Divi is both a theme and a WordPress page builder. The page builder plugin used to only be available for use with the Divi theme, but today it exists as a standalone product.
You can use the plugin with third-party themes, as well as any theme in the Elegant Themes collection.
Once you install this plugin you’ll get access to the super-powerful editor. The Divi Builder plugin gives you a powerful drag-and-drop editor, real-time editing, and built-in responsive design. It’s also equipped with tons of different pre-built modules, and even entire websites you can quickly customize.
Once you install one of these plugins you’ll be able to edit your site’s pages and layout via a drag and drop builder. However, these plugins aren’t compatible with every theme out there. So, if you’re having issues using the plugin it might be a problem with your theme’s compatibility.
Here’s a quick look at how you can edit your theme using Elementor.
The left-hand menu is full of different elements you can add to your site. Just click on an element and add it to a section. Or, you can drag and drop any element of your site.
The changes will reflect in real-time and once you’re satisfied, just save the changes. Virtually every page builder plugin you use will have similar functionality.
What’s the Best Approach for Customizing Your WordPress Theme Design?
By now you should have a better understanding of how you can edit your WordPress theme to match your brand. As you can see there are a lot of different approaches you can take to make changes to your WordPress theme.
The approach you take will differ depending on your existing skills and what you feel comfortable with.
Some website owners will be fine just making a few changes via the Customizer and their sites will be complete! While others might prefer making a ton of changes via a WordPress page builder plugin.
Feel free to try multiple approaches until you find one that works best for you. Remember, if you don’t want the world to see your website as you’re busy building it, then you can install a WordPress coming soon or maintenance mode plugin.
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The post 7 WordPress UX Plugins to Improve Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.
Small businesses rely on their websites to attract and retain customers. Websites make it possible for visitors to discover and shop with your brand.
However, a website with a poor user experience can disconnect you from future customers. If the pages load slowly or broken links appear, your visitors may decide to leave your website—increasing your site’s bounce rates.
Don’t let this happen to your small business. Use a WordPress UX plugin to improve your user experience.
Research shows that up to 70% of web traffic comes from a mobile phone. Consumers are interacting with your website on small screens. So, your team must make it easy for them to engage without having to squint their eyes or constantly resize your pages with their fingers.
WPtouch, a mobile plugin for WordPress, offers a solution by automatically adding a simple and elegant mobile theme to your website. You’ll get a mobile-friendly site that prevents your SEO rankings from dropping.
The plugin allows you to customize your site’s appearance for your mobile visitors without writing a single line of code. Don’t worry about the desktop version of your site because it will continue to show for your non-mobile visitors.
No one likes waiting, including online visitors. Your goal is to get visitors to your content as quickly as possible. The faster you can make your WordPress site, the faster visitors can learn more about your brand and products.
Smush optimizes your images to improve your page load speed. This WordPress plugin compresses images by stripping hidden bulky information to reduce the file size without affecting the appearance of the image. Also, you can bulk compress up to 50 images with one click.
This tool comes with a wrong size image finder, too. Once activated, Smush offers smart tips for scaling your images. Therefore, you can quickly locate the images slowing down your page speed.
3. Broken Link Checker
Broken links on your site disrupt the user experience. When visitors land on a 404 page, they don’t get to engage with the intended content. As a result, visitors may leave your site altogether. Adam Heitzman, co-founder and managing partner at HigherVisibility, agrees.
“The big issue with this is that broken links hinder the user experience for anyone browsing your website. In fact, too many broken links can even hinder the linking site’s SEO.”
There’s a plugin to help you monitor your WordPress website for broken links. The Broken Link Checker scans your site, notifies you of broken links, and makes suggestions for fixing those links. You can even fix broken links within the tool using the filterable link list. You’ll save time maintaining your site.
4. Provide Support Live Chat
Customers want quality service when shopping for products. Your customers also want answers to their most pressing questions so that they can make better purchasing decisions.
For your online business, live chat offers an opportunity for your team to talk directly to customers. You can answer their questions in real-time and direct them to the best product options. It also serves as a tool to build customer relationships.
You can easily add live chat to your website with the Provide Support Live Chat plugin. This tool provides your customers with instant assistance via live chat. You’ll also receive customer messages when your team is offline. Choose from the embedded chat window or classic popup chat window based on your visitors’ preferences.
5. Everest Forms
Collecting leads for your business is essential to communicating with interested buyers. To gather pertinent information from leads, you will need an online form. Ellen Gregory, a contributor to CloudApp, explains:
“Just like your favorite site, a UX form should be easy to use, deliver the information a visitor needs, help them to make an informed decision, and provide a solution for a specific challenge or concern. If not-so user-friendly forms are resulting in high bounce rates, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.”
With Everest Forms, you can create any kind of form, from lead generation forms to contact forms. The drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to control and sort your desired fields. Also, the WordPress plugin supports single and multiple-column forms.
6. Apex Notification Bar
As your small business attracts more traffic, you’ll probably want to experiment with different ways to communicate with your visitors. Maybe you want to announce a new promotion or inform people about the upcoming launch of your new ebook.
You can grab the attention of your visitors by adding a notification bar to your website. With the Apex Notification Bar, you can quickly notify visitors of your message and encourage them to take action. For example, you can add a countdown notification bar for a product sale.
This premium plugin comes with 15 pre-made templates to customize with your site. You can add a custom icon, email subscription form, contact popup, Twitter feed, or search form. It also integrates with Constant Contact.
7. Smart Product Viewer
A better website experience can earn your small business more revenue. By showcasing your products in a unique way, your brand can influence customers to purchase.
The Smart Product Viewer is an animation tool for highlighting your products. The plugin allows a customer to see your product with a full 360° spin view. It’s customizable with 64 navigation styles and color combinations.
Boost Your User Experience with WordPress UX Plugins
Your website is a powerful tool to capture the attention of your visitors. Keep people engaged by offering a superb user experience. With these WordPress plugins, you’ll be one step closer to improving your site.
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The post Domain Name Suggestions: 13 Ways to Come Up With Website Name Ideas appeared first on HostGator Blog.
You’re finally ready to start your website! You have a great brand concept figured out and came up with the perfect name for it. It’s time to take the plunge and get started.
But you go to register the domain and…the name is already taken. Your hopes are dashed.
Don’t worry, this is actually a common problem and one that countless websites have overcome. Your website will still be awesome and have a name you like, you’re just gonna have to get a little creative in choosing the right domain name. We can help.
13 Ways to Brainstorm Website Name Ideas
1. Consider other top-level domains.
If you really like the initial name you came up with, your easiest option is to see what other top-level domains it’s available in. The most competitive top-level domain (TLD) by far is the .com, so you’ll have far more options if you’re open to considering .net, .biz, .shop, or one of the many other TLD options.
Different top-level domains do tend to stand for different things. For example, a .biz domain only makes sense if you’re website will be for a business, whereas choosing a .org domain signals to visitors that the website is for a nonprofit. To avoid confusion, make sure you understand what the TLD you consider means before you register.
But with hundreds of top-level domains to choose from now, you can almost certainly find an applicable one to register your preferred name with.
2. Consult your keyword research.
Keyword research is a valuable first step for several types of online marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. It’s also a great tool for coming up with brand and domain name ideas.
Turn to free keyword tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, and Answer the Public to quickly generate a list of keyword ideas related to any word you plug in. All the suggestions from these tools will be based on the language people are actually using. And using a popular keyword in the URL of your website can be beneficial for SEO.
3. Pull out your thesaurus (or pull up thesaurus.com).
The English language is full of words that have the same or extremely similar meanings. Conveniently, we have a whole big book dedicated to making it easy to find synonyms to any word you can think of, and an online version of the book besides that makes searching for synonyms a breeze.
See if you like any of the synonyms you find just as much as you liked your original idea, and check for their availability as a domain name.
4. Look to other languages.
Sometimes, the word you’d like to use in English has a beautiful counterpart in another language you can use for your website instead. The website Translatr makes it easy to enter a word (or a few) and output a list of translations for the word in dozens of different languages.
While languages that use an entirely different alphabet probably won’t help you much here, you’ll likely still end up with a good list of words to consider.
5. Brainstorm related words.
As with the last couple suggestions, this is another way to build out a list of similar words to consider in place of the ones you originally chose. The website tool Related Words can, just like the name says, quickly produce a list of words that have some relationship to the word you plugged in.
6. Look to competitors for inspiration.
Seeing examples of what other websites have done can get your creative juices flowing. Identify other websites that provide similar products, services, or information to what your website will offer and make a list of the domain names they have. You want to be careful not to choose anything that comes too close to what a competitor uses, but you can use the words and phrases they’ve incorporated into their domains as a jumping off point for brainstorming more ideas for your own.
7. Consider relevant adjectives you can add.
Is there a meaningful adjective you can put in front of the main noun that describes what you do? Think of adjectives that sound nice and have some relation to the other word you plan to include in your domain.
A florist could go with something like Splendid Flowers or Dazzling Arrangements when trying to come up with a good descriptive phrase. In this example, adjectives like splendid and dazzling are memorable and give visitors a positive visual to associated with your brand.
8. Add another word.
Tack a word like Group, Ltd, People, or Store to the end of the domain name you had in mind and make it into a new name that works just as well. This is a simple way to replace your original domain idea with a very similar option that’s available, and still fairly easy for people to remember and find.
9. Add a cute animal to your brand.
This is a tried and true tactic that works well for the very website you’re on right now, as well as a number of other memorable brands.
Adding an animal to your domain name doesn’t just help you create a brand name that’s unique, it also automatically provides a clever branding opportunity. You can create a cute logo and mascot for your brand that’s memorable and inspires goodwill from your audience.
A lot of brands use this tactic (not just us). Think Firefox, Burt’s Bees, and FoodPanda. Brainstorm a list of animals you like and see if any seem like a good fit to round out your domain name.
10. Brainstorm objects or visuals to include in your brand.
Animals aren’t your only option, you can also think of objects that either hold some relevant symbolism, or that you just like. Brands like Apple, Android, and Monster.com employed this tactic in creating their brand names. Think about any objects that have significance for you, or that create a visual you like.
11. Brainstorm words you just like.
Some words just sound cool, or have an interesting meaning. Your domain name can be based on a word that you like the sound of—it doesn’t even have to be a word with a meaning that relates to what you do.
Brainstorm words that create imagery you like or have a nice sound when you speak them. Companies like Pandora (the music streaming site) and Serendipity (the ice cream company) use this approach.
You can find lists online that collect words many people find beautiful. Avoid anything that would be hard for your audience to spell or remember, and anything that has a meaning your audience might find distasteful or offensive. Other than that, the whole language is fair game.
12. Consider spelling variations.
A lot of brands change up the spelling of words to create a domain name. This is an especially popular choice for tech brands. Some examples include Tumblr, Tindr, Flickr, and Netflix.
This tactic for finding an available domain can potentially be risky if your audience finds the changed spelling confusing. But if you do enough marketing to help them internalize your brand name as it’s spelled—as all the companies listed above have—then it can be a clever way to still reference the word you want to use, while claiming an available domain name.
13. Make it local.
If you’re still having trouble finding something available that works, think about adding your city name onto the domain. Local versions of a domain name will be much less competitive than going for just the terms you had in mind themselves. You could also use the name of your street or neighborhood, if you like the sound of it.
For local businesses, this tactic gives your audience another useful piece of information about your business, while also making it easier to find an available domain name you like.
Register Your Domain Name Today
As soon as you find a domain name you like, don’t procrastinate claiming it. Who knows who else will have the same idea tomorrow. You don’t want to have to start this process from scratch!
You can register your domain name using the same HostGator tool you used to search its availability. And as a bonus, if you choose HostGator as your web hosting provider, registering your domain name with us means you can manage everything for your website all in one place.
Finding the right domain name is an important early step in creating a website. It can take some time and creativity, but once you find one that works, you’re on the path to launching a website that represents your brand effectively.
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