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The Best Free WordPress Themes for Travel Blogs Now

The post The Best Free WordPress Themes for Travel Blogs Now appeared first on HostGator Blog. Sharing stories is part of the adventure for most people who love to travel, and one of the best ways to share your experiences is with your own travel blog. Travel blogging can be a good way to document your trips for yourself and for your friends and family who want to travel vicariously through you. You can also earn money from your travel blog if you’re willing to put in the work to create a great-looking site, share entertaining content, and build an audience. Whether you blog about your travels as a hobby or a side gig, you need a site theme that fits your niche, your goals, and your audience habits. Best WordPress Themes for Travel Blogs Here are four WordPress blog themes we like for travel content because they’re designed to highlight your travel photos. They’re also free, which means more money saved for your next big trip.   1. Travel Magazine If you post a lot, run a travel blog with multiple authors, or have a lot of posts in your blog’s archive, Travel Magazine by Rara Theme offers a way to display a whole bunch of your visual content without crossing the line into visual clutter. The desktop display includes a slideshow banner with thumbnail images, plus featured images in varying sizes below. Travel Magazine’s mobile configuration scales down the slideshow banner and uses a single column display featured images for posts. Search engine optimization, social media integrations, and fast load times make it easy for visitors to find your site and stick around to explore. Travel Magazine is fully compatible with WooCommerce, so you can set up a store to go with your blog. The premium version of Travel Magazine is its parent theme, Numinous Pro ($59). Numinous Pro includes more customization options than the free version. It also includes an ad management system to help you monetize your blog and an ad-blocker detector to help you protect your ad revenue stream.   2. Travel Lifestyle Travel Lifestyle is a free theme from The Bootstrap Themes that loads quickly and displays cleanly on computers and phones. Travel Lifestyle’s image-heavy design focuses visitors’ attention on your travel photos. There’s also a built-in Instagram section plus integration tools for your other social media accounts. The layout and customization options are somewhat limited in the free version of Travel Lifestyle. You get one layout, banner slider, and header option, plus a limited menu of Google Fonts. But with its clean design and WooCommerce compatibility, Travel Lifestyle’s free version is a simple, budget friendly way to start your travel blog and an online store. To get color options for your theme and its menus, ad management tools, and ad-blocker bypass functionality, you can upgrade to Travel Lifestyle’s premium version ($49). The premium version also includes options for right sidebar, left sidebar, or full-width single column layout on desktop, and a full-width column or left sidebar below the fold on mobile.   3. Image Gridly Image Gridly, from Superb Themes, is a good choice for travel bloggers who take professional-quality photos. The design, as you might guess, is an image grid, with titles overlaid on the lower third of each post’s featured image rather than formatted as separate blocks of text. The desktop display features a full-width banner photo, with a three-column image grid below. On smartphones, the display switches to a full-width banner that’s smaller in proportion to the featured post images that are displayed in a single column. Image Gridly is an exceptionally good looking theme. However, the free version offers few of the features you can find in free versions of other themes, like comprehensive SEO configuration, fast load time, Google fonts, and appearance customization tools. For these features, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version. Premium plans start at $26.   4. Camer Camer, from Blogging Theme Styles, is another image grid theme, this one featuring images that display text only when visitors mouse over or tap the images. On computers, Camer has a full width text header and 4-column image grid. On phones, the images display in a single column. Camer’s free version is ready for Gutenberg, WordPress’ new modular editor that’s designed to make post creation faster and more intuitive. The free version of Camer also includes lots of design options, including blog- and box-style layouts, recent and related posts widgets, five page templates, 13 sidebar positions, and a built in social media menu. Camer Pro ($49) adds more design options, the ability to adjust the width of the sections on your pages, and more layouts, page templates, and sidebar positions.   Picking the Perfect Theme for Your WordPress Travel Blog The live demos that theme publishers offer on their sites can give you a general idea of how a particular theme will look and act, but it’s smart to try out the ones you’re interested in with your content before you commit to one theme. As you try out different themes on your computer and mobile devices, think about: How well the theme highlights the type of content you publish most often, whether that’s photos, videos, or text. How you intend to make money with your blog. If you plan to display ads, sell merchandise in a store on your site, or offer a subscription service, will the theme support those plans? How your followers access your blog. Are they reading on their laptops or checking in on their mobile phones during their own travels? Choose a theme that makes it easy for your fans to see your posts and get the most from your site. Your theme journey isn’t over after you pick a theme and publish it. You’ll want to monitor site metrics like visitors, bounce rate, time spent on the site, and—if you’re selling—conversions. If your numbers aren’t trending upward after a few months, you might want to try a different theme from this list to see if that gives your numbers a boost. Running a travel blog is a journey of its own, and choosing a good theme is just one element of your travel blogger’s online toolkit. To get even more functionality our your blog, check out these WordPress travel plugins. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Is Responsive Web Design?

The post What Is Responsive Web Design? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Whether you’re building a new website or realize it’s time to do a proper redesign for a website you already have, one of the first concepts you’re likely to encounter in your research to get started is responsive web design. What Is Responsive Web Design? Responsive web design is a relatively new way of approaching website design that ensures that a website looks good on all devices. On responsive websites, the same information and page elements appear no matter what device you’re on, but the way they’re sized and organized will change based on your screen size.   The website adapts (or responds) to the smaller screen size of smartphones and tablets  to provide an intuitive experience, regardless of your device. An adaptive design and flexible layout provides a better user experience for your visitors and also helps to boost your search engine optimization value. With the growing use of mobile devices to access websites of all types—mobile use now surpasses desktop—website owners have to prioritize the mobile experience. In the early days of mobile, designers would often create a separate mobile website for smartphone visitors than the one that would load for desktop visitors. But as the number of device types and screen sizes available grows, that’s not a practical solution. In addition to the variety of screen sizes, you also have to deal with people’s ability to change the direction of how they hold their devices (landscape versus portrait) and the fact that people have varied preferences for how they size their web browser windows. In short, you could design a dozen completely unique websites to accommodate different screen sizes and still be missing out on a number of common use cases. Or you can design one responsive website that works on just about every device, screen, and web browser window—no matter the size. The Main Elements of Responsive Web Design You’ve likely encountered many examples of responsive web design without thinking about how it all works. In order to design a website that’s responsive, designers employ a few main tricks and techniques. Flexible grids Designers have always used grids to build websites, but for responsive websites they have to make sure the grid is flexible and can load differently based on the screen size. Flexible grids are therefore a core part of responsive website design. Breakpoints Related to flexible grids, breakpoints are the spots on the page you identify where the page can be cut off and the information to the side moved downward. Every website should have at least three breakpoints for the three main devices types people use, but most websites will have more than that. Flexible images and responsive media queries Text is pretty easy to move around based on screen size, but images and media features can be potentially trickier. There are a number of different options designers can employ to ensure images show up in the right size for the screen, without causing slow load times or looking strangely squashed. In most cases, it’s a matter of coding to determine how large the image will show up. In others, it could be changing the image itself (cutting unnecessary parts out, for instance) and telling the site which version to load based on the screen size. There are also coding commands designers can use to ensure any media included on a page loads in the right size. Responsive media queries allow you to set the maximum and minimum width for the media, as well as setting orientation for media on iPads. Visual hierarchy A big part of website design with a responsive layout is always considering which parts of a page are the highest priority. The images and messages it’s most important for your visitors to see should go higher up on the page, with any elements that are less important going further down. Visual hierarchy is a good web design practice in general, but it’s especially important in responsive design since visitors on smaller devices will be seeing less on the page at a time. You want to keep them on the page, so make sure the most valuable parts of the page are accessible higher up. Touchscreen and mouse friendly elements Another important consideration in mobile design is making sure everything on the page is just as intuitive and usable on a touchscreen as it is with a mouse. That means links that are big and obvious enough to select on a small screen and easy scrolling on all device types. Good responsive design includes user testing to make sure all elements of a page work just as well using a mouse as doing it all by touch.   5 Reasons You Should Use Responsive Web Design As a website owner, you know web design trends sometimes come and go. If you already have a website, committing to a professional website makeover  or redesign is a big deal, so even knowing what responsive website design is and how big of a buzzword it is, you may wonder if it really is important to build a responsive website. And for someone starting a new website, you may worry making it responsive could be more difficult or expensive. In either case, responsive web design really is the best choice for a few good reasons. 1. A majority of web users browse on mobile. Recent estimates put the number of people with mobile devices at over five billion. And as we already mentioned, more internet use now happens on mobile devices than on desktops. Mobile is clearly a trend that’s here to stay, and website owners need to adapt. You don’t want to alienate over half of your website visitors by delivering them a crummy user experience. For your website to work for everyone, you need to prioritize your mobile and desktop visitors equally. And responsive websites are the best way to make sure everyone that visits your website gets the experience you’re aiming for. 2. A mobile-friendly website is required for SEO. For several years now, Google has been telling SEO professionals that how well a website works on mobile is a factor in how they determine rankings. They’ve even gone so far as to develop a free tool to see how mobile friendly your website is. If you want people to find your website through the search engine, then making it mobile friendly is crucial. Not only has Google been upfront about mobile friendliness being an SEO ranking factor, but they’ve also said outright that they prefer responsive design. While expressing a preference isn’t quite the same thing as saying it will boost your SEO, if you care about where your website shows up in the rankings, following Google’s recommendations is just smart. 3.  It saves you time. Obviously you need a website that works on mobile, there’s no longer a debate on that point. But there are other options for making your website mobile friendly than going with responsive design. You can create a separate mobile version of your website, for instance. But having two websites comes with certain issues. Top of the list is that it takes more time to build two independent websites than it does to build a single responsive website. You’ll be doubling your efforts both when it comes to creating the websites and when it comes to updating them over time. And you’ll have to actively stay on top of the performance of each. There are more opportunities for broken links or pages that don’t load right when you have double the websites to monitor. 4. It provides consistent information across devices. The thinking behind building a unique mobile website is that you can figure out what people are looking for when they come to your website on a mobile device and build a site that answers those mobile-specific needs. Then, when building out your desktop website, you can build a fuller version of the site that includes everything you want to include, since you have more space to work with. The problem is that means your mobile visitors are missing out on some of the information your desktop visitors get to see. Either you’re padding your desktop website with information your visitors don’t really need, or you’re depriving your mobile visitors of stuff they might be interested in. Either way, you’re creating an unequal experience for your visitors based on the device they use. And you may be surprised by the way mobile behavior resembles desktop. An analysis found that people are willing to scroll on mobile devices almost as much as they do on desktop, and are, if anything, more engaged on mobile devices and more likely to click on links. If you kept all your longer pages and content to the desktop-only version of your website, you’re keeping them from mobile users who may well be more likely to read and engage with them. 5. It makes tracking analytics easier. This is just one more way having double the websites means having to do more work. You have to keep up with the analytics for both versions of your website, and analyze the results separately. In contrast, with responsive websites you can still see how your analytics differ based on the device people are using, but you’re able to make deductions about what’s working for your audience based on a consistent big picture view of your website. It’s just easier to track your analytics all in one place and make sense out of them when you’re dealing with a relatively consistent experience across devices. How to Create a Responsive Website As responsive web design has increasingly become the norm, website owners now have easier options for creating a responsive website. When trying to decide how to make your website responsive, you have two main choices. Option #1: Use a responsive template. Building a website today is much easier than it was in the early years of the internet. Even people with zero coding or design skills can pull together a good looking website in a matter of hours with the help of the right website builder. And because of how important responsive web design has become, the best website builders will include responsive templates you can use to make designing a mobile-friendly responsive website simple. If your priority is getting your website up in a way that’s quick, easy, and affordable, a website builder with mobile-friendly templates is the best tool for responsive web design. When trying to find the right website builder for your needs, make sure that it offers a number of well designed templates to choose from and that they’re all responsive. You won’t have to do any extra work to make sure your website works just as well for your mobile users as it does for your desktop visitors. Option #2: Hire a skilled designer. Your second option is more expensive, but it gives you more power to realize the specific vision you have of a website. While website builders with responsive templates make things a lot easier, you’re working from a design that already exists and that other websites start from as well. A good web designer can build you a website from scratch that directly matches what you have in mind. At this point, most professional web designers have the skill to build responsive websites, but do make sure to ask any designer you consider about their experience and make it clear from the outset that you want your website to be responsive. Ask to see other examples of websites that are responsive to make sure you like their work and trust them to create the website you want. One Last Step: Perform User Testing. Whichever option you choose for building your responsive website, in order to truly know that it works well on all types of devices, you need to test it out. Or more accurately, you need people in your target audience to test it out. User testing ensures you spot issues with your website’s usability in advance of when you release it. It’s better to know that your checkout process is difficult on a mobile device before you start losing sales because of it, and user testing provides you with that kind of valuable head’s up. User testing is a good idea for any website, but it can especially be useful with responsive websites so you can make sure your website looks the way you want it to on as many device types as possible. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Website Builder Packages: Everything You Need to Know

The post Website Builder Packages: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on HostGator Blog. The time has come to take the plunge and learn how to build a new website. You’ve already decided that using a website builder is the right choice for you— a web designer is too expensive, and you don’t have the skills to build it from scratch. Now you just need to decide on the best website builder package for you. What’s Included in Website Builder Packages? Website builder brands generally offer a number of different website builder plans that each package together different features, customization tools, website templates, and services. Since every plan is different, what’s included in a website builder package depends on the particular company you go with and plan you choose. There are some common features and services you can expect to find in the website builder packages you consider. Common Features Included in Basic Website Builder Plans Most website builder packages you encounter will include most, if not all of these basic plan features. They’re some of the most essential things to look for in a website builder plan. Web Templates Part of what makes creating a beautiful website with a website builder so easy is the option to start with a design template. The web design template provides a basic structure for you to start with so you don’t have to build anything from scratch—you make changes to what’s there already. Any good website builder package you consider should offer a number of templates for you to choose from. Drag-and-drop functionality Good website builders provide an intuitive website editor that allows you to move items around on the page easily with the drag and drop function. When you want to move a button or image a little to the left, simply click on it and drag it to where it should go. It makes turning the template you choose into the website you imagine a simple process. Ability to change colors and add original images In addition to moving elements on the page around, you also need to be able to change out the color scheme to your preferences and include images that are unique to your site. A good website builder should let you select your color and fill in spaces on the page with a simple click. And it should make loading and positioning your original photographs or illustrations an easy process as well. Some storage All the different elements of your website will take up some space. Each image and word requires some bit of storage, and bigger files like videos or audio will require more. Even the most basic website builder plans should provide some storage for you, although for free or cheap plans, it might not be much. Customer service Even for website builders that are easy to use and generally work well, you may come up against an issue where you need help from a human. Any website builder package worth considering—particularly any that comes at a cost—needs to include access to customer service staff you can reach out to when you need help. Educational resources Often it’s more convenient to find your own answers though, and website builder plans should also include a library of educational resources such as tutorials, articles, or videos that explain how to use the website builder and all the different features included. Premium Features Included in Some Website Builder Plans While for some people, a simple website builder that includes little more than the features above will work just fine, for a lot of website owners, especially for those making a business website who want to run an ecommerce store, you’ll need a website builder package that provides more advanced features. Here are some of the features included in premium website builder packages. Ad free With free website builder plans, the company often makes money by displaying ads on your website. You have limited control over what ad shows up where and must accept a website that looks more cluttered and  not as professional because of the cost of choosing that plan. One of the main benefits of paying for a better website builder package is getting that control back and knowing your website will be ad free (or only include ads that you profit from directly). Domain name Once you register a domain name, that will be the main address people will find you with on the web. Choosing the perfect domain name that’s memorable is important for any website to have. Some website builders may come with a free domain name included—either one that’s a subdomain of the website builder’s domain (e.g. something like websitebuildername.yourname.com), or a unique domain (yourname.com). There are branding and SEO (search engine optimization) benefits to having your own unique domain name. Website builder packages that don’t come with a domain name included in the cost may still make it easy for you to find and register one from within the platform. Web hosting Web hosting is a necessary expense for any website that wants to go live online. But it’s an expense you can save on if you go with a website builder package that includes it in the price. If you do go with a website builder plan that includes web hosting, make sure it comes from a web hosting provider that has a strong reputation in the industry for consistent uptime and speed.   Email accounts If you send people emails from a Hotmail or AOL account, you look unprofessional. Gmail’s a step up, but it’s still not quite as impressive as sending an email from an address at your own domain name. Many premium website builder packages include the option to create email addresses at your domain name. Sometimes they’ll allow just a limited number, sometimes you can create as many as you want, which is a useful option for large and small business owners that want all employees to have a branded email address. eCommerce options Not all website owners will need eCommerce options, but if you hope to ever sell products through your website, then they’re essential. Some premium website builder packages specialize in eCommerce store features, providing shopping cart functionality, an easy checkout process, and a secure way to accept payments. If this is something you’ll need, it’s important to find a plan that supports it. Mobile friendly options Having a website that’s mobile friendly is no longer optional. A good portion of your visitors will view your website on a mobile device and, if it doesn’t look good or the functionality is lacking in that format, you’ll lose them. A bad mobile experience is also bad for SEO. A good website builder plan will include easy ways to create a website that’s mobile friendly, such as offering responsive website templates. Supports multiple websites Some website builder packages will allow you to use the builder to create multiple websites under the same plan. You’ll still need a separate domain for each, but you can do all the design work and monitoring in one place without paying extra. Ability to take your website with you Website builder plans typically use a subscription model, meaning that you’ll pay monthly or yearly for as long as you keep your website. If down the line you decide you want to switch to a different website builder, many plans won’t allow you to take what you’ve built with you. Some premium plans will let you export the website you have so you won’t have to start from scratch with a new plan. Unlimited pages For simple websites that don’t include many pages, a basic website builder plan that allows for one page or just a few will do the trick. But for more complicated websites that will include product pages, a blog, or lots of educational resources, you need the option to expand. Many premium website builder plans allow you to build websites with unlimited pages. High level of storage As previously mentioned, all website builders should provide some level of storage, but premium plans will often offer much more of it than basic plans. For any websites that will have a lot of pages, images, and media elements, having more storage will allow you to grow as you need without limitations. More bandwidth The amount of bandwidth your website builder plan includes will affect how fast and consistently your site loads for visitors. This is especially important for websites that get a high level of traffic or include media elements that require more bandwidth to load, like high resolution images and videos. Premium plans usually include higher bandwidth so you can count on faster load times for your visitors. Add-on apps Many website builder packages include access to an app store which offers a number of different apps you can add to your website builder to increase the functionality of your website. Add-on apps can provide new e-commerce website features, more advanced analytics, different ways to embed social media, and additional security options. Before settling on a particular website builder package, consider what add-on apps are available that may be useful for your website. SEO features With so many websites online, getting noticed is a challenge. Search engine optimization is important  because it’s  one of the best ways to make sure people can find your website when they’re searching for the kind of information and products you provide. While there’s a lot to doing SEO well, the right website builder package can make some of the initial steps easier with handy SEO features that enable on-site optimization, such as customizing your URLs, creating SEO-focused title tags, and adding image tags with target keywords. Mobile app If you want the ability to work on and update your website on the go, look for a website builder package that includes a mobile app. When you can easily make updates to your website from your phone, that provides flexibility to get your website done faster and more efficiently, no matter where you’re working from. Automated backups Even if creating your website is quick and easy with a website builder, that doesn’t mean you want to risk having to start over from scratch due to losing everything. To keep your website safe and avoid having to re-do work, consider a package that includes automated website backups or offers the option as an affordable add-on. You won’t have to make a point of remembering manual backups, and you’ll always have easy access to the last version of your website if you need to restore it. Security features Websites get hacked. It’s an unfortunate risk of putting yourself out there on the web. That’s why it’s so important to secure your website from hackers right from the start. You can reduce your website’s vulnerability with the help of security features like an SSL certificate and security software. Some website builder packages will include security features as part of the cost, or as add-ons you can buy. Analytics Analytics give you a snapshot of how many people are visiting your website, how they find it, and how they interact with it once there. No matter what your website goals are, whether that be for a business or blog, following your website analytics is the best way to understand how well you’re achieving them and determine any changes you should make to do better. A good website builder package will provide access to analytics in your dashboard so it’s easy to check how your website is performing every time you log in. The Cost of Website Builder Packages As you’d expect, the more premium features a website builder package includes, the more you’ll be spending. Most basic affordable website builder plans start at around $4 a month and provide all the most essential features you need to build a simple website with just a few pages and elements. For a more complicated website that will require a lot of pages, an e-commerce store, or more media elements, you’ll want to consider a website builder package that offers more of the premium features you need. These fall somewhere in the $10-$50 a month range. Keep in mind that, in some cases, spending more on a website builder package can save you money by avoiding the cost of expenses you’d otherwise pay for separately. For example, no matter what, you’ll need to invest in web hosting for your website. If your website builder plan doesn’t include it, you’ll be paying separately for it. Carefully consider both the cost of the plan itself, and what you’ll be getting for that cost. How to Compare Website Builder Plans in 4 Simple Steps There are a lot of website builder plans out there. Trying to research them all to find the right one can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to hone in on the best one for you. 1. Figure out your priorities. You’ll have an easier time identifying the right plan for you if you start by defining what you need. Some of the features listed above will be necessities for you. Some will be nice-to-have, but not required. And others will be completely inconsequential to the website you plan to build. Figure out which features fall into which category so you start your search with a list of what you need and want. 2. Research different providers. Now go looking for website builders that offer the items on your list. You can easily rule out any plans that don’t provide your must-have features and compare the plans that offer your nice-to-have ones. 3. Consider a company’s different plans. For website builder companies that offer packages that cover all the bases you need, also take a minute to look at their higher-level plans. Even though you may not need all the features offered in their more expensive plans right away, you want to have room to grow. If you’ll need those premium features later, it’s good to know you can easily upgrade with the website builder you choose now to get them. 4. Make your choice. With your list and a little research into your options, you should be able to easily identify the website builder packages that come the closest to what you need for a price you can afford. Decide which of them is the best fit, and make your purchase. Start Building Your Website HostGator’s website builder offers users many of the features included in the list, including free website hosting from one of the most respected providers in the industry. If you want to get started with one of our website builder packages, sign up for our hosting services today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Add Live Chat to Your Website for Free

The post How to Add Live Chat to Your Website for Free appeared first on HostGator Blog. A few years ago, a live chat service on your website was often considered a luxury. Now that the age of technology is here and customers are always able to access our sites from their smartphone, laptop, or tablet, a chat box is more important than ever before. Customer Think estimated that live chat use will grow a staggering 87 percent from 2017 until the end of 2018. If you’ve visited virtually any website that sells a product or service in the past year, it’s easy to see that they were spot on. Everyone is offering live chat as a way to retain customers, boost sales, and improve the overall customer experience. If you’re looking for a way to install live chat on your website, you’re in the right place. There’s a wide selection of paid live chat applications out there, but we are going to show you the best way to add a free chat software to your website. Picking Your Live Chat Application Before you can add live chat to your website, it’s important that you decide on the chat program you would like to use on your site. There are plenty of software types to choose from, but we are going to use Fresh Chat for this example. Fresh Chat offers free chat software for your website with increasingly useful versions for business owners who want to get more from their chat service. We are going to show you how to add the ‘sprout’ version today. The free version allows you to add 10 team members to your chat program so you can handle customer requests with ease. The other tiers allow you to add additional members and really flesh out your live chat functionality as your business grows. Here’s how to get started. Step 1: Sign up for Fresh Chat The first thing you should do is sign up for an account on the website. After landing on their homepage you can sign up by entering your email address on the top right side of the screen. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your account while getting redirected to the Fresh Chat Inbox. Check your email and activate your account to continue. Once activating your account, you’ll get redirected to a page that asks for some basic information to get your account set up. Enter in your information in each text box like your name, phone number, company name, and your password. Click activate and login to continue. Step 2: Integrate Fresh Chat Now that you’ve activated your account, it’s time to link your Fresh Chat account to your website. If you click ‘integrate now’ on the top of your Fresh Chat dashboard, you’ll get simple directions on how to integrate the chat service on your company website. Here’s how it works. From your website back end, copy and paste the provided code into the <Head> section in order to allow Fresh Chat to communicate with your site (and your users!). Next, you’ll need to add this code snippet before </BODY> The last step here is optional, but if you would like to add the ability to track individual users, use the code before in your </BODY> text. Step 3: Add Team Members Now that you have connected your website to your Fresh Chat account, it’s time to start adding team members. As previously mentioned, you can have up to 10 team members on the Sprout account. From the Fresh Chat dashboard, click on the gear icon labeled Settings on the bottom left side of your navigation panel. This will open up all of your account settings. Under configure, click on team members to open up the team manager menu. Now you can add up to 10 agents by clicking the blue ‘add a team member’ button on the top of the team management page. You’ll have to enter in information such as their name, email address, and role on Fresh Chat. Here is an example team member we added. Once you’ve entered in all of the information for your new team member, click save to add them to your account. They will receive their own confirmation email letting them know that you’ve added them to the team. Step 4: Customize Your Chat Window Now that you’ve added Fresh Chat to your website and set up your team, you can now customize how your chat window looks on your website. Simply go back to the settings page from your dashboard and click on ‘web messenger settings’ and click the customize appearance tab to change the appearance of your chat window. After tweaking the customization options, you’ll be able to preview your new chat box on the right side of the screen. Here is one that we put together. Get Started with Live chat That’s all there is to it! If you follow these steps you’ll have a functioning chat function available on your website for your customers. There are plenty of great benefits to adding live chat to your website. The ability to directly communicate with customers can improve your lead generation efforts and help bring customers down your sales funnel. As your website grows, you may want to consider upgrading to a premium Fresh Chat plan. The additional tiers allow you to add more team members, gives you more freedom to expand on the chat framework you’ve created here, and makes it easy to track your analytics for improved customer experience. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create Your Website Navigation Menu

The post How to Create Your Website Navigation Menu appeared first on HostGator Blog. Are you building your first website? Or maybe you’ve had a website for a long time and it’s time for a refresh. Either way, pay special attention to the navigation menu, as the navigation menu can be the most important part of your website – even more important than the design. A website navigation menu can be the most important element of your website because it is the main index or digital catalog that people will use to find content on your website. A navigation menu is often organized as a tool bar at the top of a website or on a sidebar, or as a drop-down navigation menu that nests topics under main categories. Often times the website navigation menu gets overlooked as an important tool that requires strategy. Instead, it’s often a “dumping ground” for every page of your website. Some people will argue that every page on your website should be listed in the navigation menu. But the main point is that you should spend time organizing your navigation menu so website visitors can easily find their way around your website. 4 Steps to Create a Successful Website Navigation Menu 1. Determine the goals of your website. Ultimately, your website should reflect your business’ goals. The biggest piece of strategy to consider for your website is: What do you want people to know or do as a result of visiting your website? Every website is unique so your answer to this question will be unique as well. But your website visitors should be able to easily understand what you want them to do, and they should be able to easily access that information. For example: If you run a website for non profit organization, you may want people to sign up to volunteer, or donate money to a fundraiser. If your main goal is for people to sign up to volunteer, add a big “volunteer” button on the navigation menu that is visible on all pages of your website. If you have an online store, you may want them to browse your online catalog and purchase at least one item. If you are a restaurant, you may want them to view the menu and call to book a reservation. Whatever it is that you want visitors to know or do as a result of visiting your website, make sure that “action” is easy to find and easy to complete. The Texas 4-H organization implemented this strategy by adding a “volunteer” button to the main navigation and a highlighted button for “Join Texas 4-H” so website visitors can quickly find the action to sign up to join or sign up to volunteer. Consider writing the button text or navigation menu item as an action item such as ‘browse online catalog’, ‘shop online’, ‘sign up to volunteer’, or ‘donate today.’ 2. Create an “about us” page Every website should have an “about us” page for a few different reasons. First, people will use the “about us” page to learn more about your business, who you are, and what you do. Second, the “about us” page is important for your search engine ranking since the page will include an overview of your business with important search keywords. Make sure you include important words or services that people would be searching for in order to find a business like yours. The “about us” page is often the longest page on a website, and gives you the biggest opportunity to maximize your chance for search engine ranking. Your “about us” page should tell your story, establish credibility, showcase your work, and quickly review the services or products you offer. Click to read more about how to create an awesome about page for your website. 3. Create a “contact us” page Every website should also have a “contact us” page. A contact us page is an easy way for people to find important information on how to reach you – either by email, phone, or a physical address. Make sure that this information is cohesive across all of your online entities. For example, you should reference your physical address online in exactly the same way on your website, Facebook page, and your Google My Business page. Cohesive information will help search engines verify your business and identify that each page (website, Facebook, Google My Business) should be attributed to your business. The HostGator contact page includes the various ways someone might be interested in contacting us, but the main header prominently features a phone number and chat as those are the primary contact methods for our customers. 4. Organize a catalog for your business type Does your business sell products or offer services? Maybe you do both… For example, a jewelry store could offer jewelry products for sale, and also services such as jewelry design or jewelry appraisals. Either way, make a list of all the things you do or sell and organize them by categories based on how people would shop. Read more ideas on how to organize product categories for your online store. You can also use these ideas to help organize your services categories. Designing Your Website Navigation Menu The website navigation bar is the main method people will use to browse your website, if you do it well. If you don’t take the time to organize your naivation menu, website visitors can quickly become confused or frustrated and leave your website for a competitor. No matter what type of website you have, the main navigation menu should quickly highlight your business so website visitors can see what you do, what you offer, and what you want them to know or do as a result of visiting your website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

4 Great Examples of Video Content that Converts on Social Media

The post 4 Great Examples of Video Content that Converts on Social Media appeared first on HostGator Blog. They say, “Content is king,” but that’s only true if you are creating the right type of content for your target audience. And when it comes to social media marketing, it’s all about video content. Text and blog content will always have a value and place of its own, but video is getting all of the attention, buzz and engagement when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram users. When used correctly, it’s also been a huge influencer in higher site conversions as well. With this in mind, today we are going to be looking at four different ways to create video content for your social audiences, while also growing your reach, conversions, and engagement in the process. 1. Create Videos Based on Current Events and Existing Viral Content One of the many benefits to focusing your efforts on video content, is that most of the time a lot of the work is already done for you. With blogging, whall of your content has to be original, but things are completely different with video and images. Everyone is always sharing the same stuff, and making memes, and we often really never know who the original creator or uploader was. A perfect example of this can be seen here. We’ve probably all seen the video of the people in the boat, who aren’t sitting down and are going way too fast. End result, they fly all over the place and the video goes viral. But the reason why this particular example is so perfect, is because “Rick Lax’s Favorite Videos” (which currently has 1.6 million Facebook fans) is killing it with videos that have already gone viral. They simply add their own text and commentary to each and republish them under their own channel. This video example alone has more than 50k shares and over 17 million views. 2. Grab Attention with Whiteboard and Text Animation Videos As wonderful as video can be for social media, it’s not simply a matter of uploading a video and then seeing results. When the thought of video comes to mind, many people shy away because they either have no idea how to create them, or they don’t want to spend a lot of money on a design team. Just like anything else, you need to create content that grabs the attention of your audience and makes them want to stop scrolling through their news feed. An excellent way to accomplish this is through the use of whiteboard and text animation videos. These types of videos are also very affordable and easy to make. Using a tool like mysimpleshow makes the video creation quite simple, as you just need to grab images, add text, and then move them around to your liking. Then, once you find an idea and concept that works with an audience, you can continue to tweak and customize it until it’s perfect. If there was ever an example for how important and effective animation and explainer videos are, this video is it. I don’t know many people that actually care how deep the ocean is, or would even spend 10 second to read about it… but when it’s in visual form, it can result in millions of views and new social followers or customers. If you aren’t too familiar with the concept of whiteboard and animation video, or how you can start using them for your own brand or business, check out this article with 17 great examples. 3. Develop Brand Mentions with Industry Experts and Video Interviews How many times have you visit a top influencer blog or online marketing guru site and then started seeing their advertisements and videos on Facebook? It happens all the time, and we will actually cover this in more detail in the next point. What I want to focus on now however, is the importance of video branding and visual association with other experts and trusted brands within a given niche. These videos work well for many reasons. They improve brand awareness and build reputation points as well. It’s not just about people searching for your videos. It’s also about them searching for who you might be doing an interview with. There are a number of tools out there to help with the tracking of social media mentions, while also providing you with some valuable data on who the top experts are within your space — which could lead to more interview and partnering opportunities. The best examples of these co-branded videos are often seen with one-to-one video interviews and webinars, which are then turned into sponsored content on social media. It’s usually Q&A for the first half, then upselling for something in the second portion. If you see someone interviewing or having a chat with someone else you know and trust, you are also more likely to follow and trust them as well. Plus, think about how many people you could be reaching when the person you are interviewing also shares it with their audience. This is something Russell Brunson has been doing for a while to grow his company. Head over to his YouTube account and you can see one of his interviews with Tony Robbins. Once you have something like that in place, you can keep marketing it and milking it for all it’s worth — since Tony is such a well-known and trusted name. Also, once you start to secure bigger names for interviews and JV opportunities, it will make the process of bringing in other influencers much easier. By using social media to host and promote this content, you are also growing a community forum around the content with comments, questions, and sharing. 4. Set Up a Remarketing Video Campaign We’ve covered a bunch of different ways to create video content, but not so much on how to effectively target your audience. As with all advertising, it’s ideal to show your best advertisements and ad copies to audiences that are already familiar with your brand or what you have to offer. Once again, this is where the magic of social media advertising comes into play once again. Through the use of remarketing, one can create an ad campaign that will deliver specific advertisements to audiences that have either been to your site and left, subscribed to your mailing list, or are already a follower of your social accounts. These types of video campaigns are ideal with upselling and bringing users back to complete a process they might not have acted on. These are commonly used with webinars as well, often being reminders that a webinar offer is closing and to act soon. There are many different methods for setting these types of campaigns up, and Adespresso has an excellent guide on the different options available. Through the use of custom audiences, you can even create campaigns and retarget users based on how much of your video they watched. Another great thing about remarketing ads is that your advertising dollars are spent more efficiently. Since your ads are being seen by people that are already interested in something you offer, they are more likely to click and buy. Not only can this lead to increased conversions, but also lower ad costs as a result of a much higher click through rate. Video is Here and It’s Also the Future! After skimming through each of the video creation and marketing examples laid out above, you should have some nice ideas for implement similar concepts into your own business and brand. The concept of using video to create content and target your audience is nothing new, but the methods in which you are reach, engage and upsell your video marketing is. Be sure to start using these methods today, as video isn’t just here right now… it’s also the future of all online, offline, and social media engagement. Get started with these 7 video ideas every business should feature on their website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Domain Name Management

The post Domain Name Management appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you’re in the early stages of creating your first website, you may be surprised by just how much is involved in building and maintaining a website. One of the most important parts of getting your website up on the web, and keeping it running for years to come, is domain name management. What is Domain Name Management? Domain name management is everything involved in finding the right domain name, registering it, and keeping it up to date for as long as you want to use it. Domain management isn’t difficult (or at least it doesn’t have to be), but it’s something important to stay on top of for as long as you have a website. Starting Out with Domain Name Management The bulk of what you need to know about domain name management comes into play when you’re still in the planning stages of creating your new website. What Is a Domain Name? Ever wondered how domain names work? A domain name is what people type into a browser to find your website. Every website technically has two addresses used to stake out their unique place on the web. Computers identify websites using their IP address, which usually looks something like 111.111.111.1111 (except with more or a mix of numbers than that). But humans aren’t likely to remember a long string of numbers like that, so for us, the main internet address that matters for websites is the domain name. Domain names start with www, and most commonly end with .com—although there are a growing number of top-level domains people and businesses can opt for instead of .com, such as .net, .org, and .biz. Your domain name’s important because it’s directly tied to how people will think about and interact with your website. A simple and straightforward domain name like www.sarahs-website.com will be easier to find and remember than one that’s confusing and overlong like www.examplewebsitehardtoremember1267849.com. But with a huge and growing number of websites already online, a simple and straightforward domain name is getting harder to find every day. Who Needs a Domain Name? In short, everybody that wants a website. Think about it: have you ever been on a website that didn’t have a domain name? It’s a core part of being published online. If you want anyone else to be able to find and access your website, then a domain name isn’t optional. It’s one of the necessary costs of doing business on the web. But the cost is fairly minimal and, in return, you get the possibility of being found by friends, strangers, and potential customers alike. How Do You Find a Domain Name? As mentioned, this part can be challenging. With over a billion websites already published online, most of the obvious combinations of words have already been taken. Or if they’re not yet in use, they’re owned by domain investors who will charge a lot to hand them over. So before you get too attached to one domain name, you need to research first whether that domain name is available. You can quickly determine a domain name’s availability by searching at https://www.hostgator.com/domains If your domain name is available, you can register it right there. If not, the tool will provide recommendations for similar domains to consider. In some cases, it’s worth also putting your desired domain directly into a browser to see if it’s currently owned by someone willing to sell it. But you should expect to the cost to be reasonably high for domain names for sale by investors. There’s a good chance you’ll need to do some brainstorming and a number of searches before you land on a domain name idea you really like that’s also readily available. But it’s worth spending some time to find a domain name that’s a good fit for your website. How to Register a Domain Name Once you’ve found the right domain name for your website, you want to claim it as quickly as possible, before someone else tries to buy it. Registering a domain name is a simple process. If you’re buying a domain name that no one owns yet, you can go through any domain registrant. With HostGator, just add the domain you’ve chosen to your shopping cart and checkout. If the exact domain name you search is available, it will be added to your shopping cart automatically. Pro tip: Register your domain with your web hosting service.  Most companies that sell web hosting also offer domain registration services. While you can always use a previously registered domain name when you sign up with a different web hosting company, that adds unnecessary steps to your process. You can save yourself a little time and energy by keeping it all in one place. What is Domain Name Privacy? As you’re registering your domain, you’ll probably see the option to include domain name privacy as an add-on. It costs a little extra, so you’ll obviously want to know what you’re actually paying for if you choose to get it. Every time someone registers a website, the domain registrant is required to submit contact information to the ICANN WHOIS directory, including a: Mailing addressPhone number Email address Having this information published to the wide web makes it easy for spammers and scammers to access, which opens the door to receiving a barrage of emails, texts, and calls you don’t want. And that’s on top of any potential safety concerns that come with your contact information being public for anyone to find. Domain name privacy is a service registrars offer to keep your contact information private while still staying compliant with the law. The domain registrar will provide their own information, so that anyone who has a genuine need to get in touch with the domain owner still has a way to reach you, just with the company serving as your intermediary so you can dodge all the unnecessary contact. How to Set Up Web Hosting Having a domain name is one necessity in getting a new website online, but the other important step you have to take is setting up web hosting for your new website. In most cases, you can combine the two steps by using the same provider for both and make your life easier. Subscribing to a new web hosting plan is as easy as registering a new domain. Simply determine which type of web hosting is right for you, select your plan, and check out with the web hosting provider you chose. Any good web hosting company will also provide a number of useful resources to help you get started and learn how to use their cpanel and other resources. And you can often register your domain, or any additional ones you choose to purchase, in the web hosting account you use to manage your website. Ongoing Domain Management Domain management isn’t something you do once and you’re done. Domain names and all of the services associated with them work on a subscription basis, meaning you need to pay on a regular basis to keep everything up to date. Handling Renewals The most common option for ongoing domain management is annual renewals, although you can often save some money by committing to multi-year plans where you purchase your domain and other services for several years out. In either case, when renewal time rolls around, you need to confirm that you still want to continue: Using the domain name you purchasedKeeping your contact information private (if you opted for domain name privacy)Continuing with the web hosting provider you selected The company you work with will send reminders when your renewal is coming due, so you can decide if you want to keep using your domain, and make sure you make the necessary payments on time to keep your website functioning. The Risks of Not Managing Your Domain Name Setting up everything you need when starting your new website is obviously important, but consistently keeping up with domain management is arguably even more important. The risks of dropping the ball when it comes to domain name management are serious. You could lose your domain name. During the initial search for the right domain name, you saw how hard it is to find a good domain name that’s available. If you fail to renew your domain name at the right time and someone else buys it, you lose access to it. And you’re back to square one in the search for a new one. Finding a good domain name is hard enough the first time, why put yourself through all that again? You lose all your domain authority. Even worse, if you switch to a different domain name, all the work you’ve put into building your website’s authority online will be lost. The new domain owner will get the benefit of the brand recognition you worked so hard to build and the backlinks you earned. And all your regular visitors will be confused to find the website they expected to find gone. Unless you’ve built up an email list and can use it to drive most of your former followers to a new website, you risk losing your following completely. And even then, there will likely be former fans that miss the update and give up on looking for your new address online. Someone can charge you big bucks to get it back. When you realize the high stakes of losing the domain name you’ve used for years, you’ll want to get it back. Sometimes people buy a domain name out from under the former owner the moment they see an opportunity to do so for exactly this reason. These domain name sharks know how valuable it is to you and how big of a loss it would be. That means a big opportunity for profit for them. To get your old website back at the address people know, with all the SEO authority it had before, you’re pretty much at their mercy. They can ask for a significant amount of money—and the better a job you’ve done of building up your website’s reputation, the more they’re likely to demand. You can be punished for the amount of work you’ve done and success you’ve accomplished up to that point. Obviously it’s preferable to stay on top of your domain management and keep current to begin with! How to Make Domain Name Management Easy We have good news! Domain name management doesn’t have to be hard. There are two good ways to make the process easy so you don’t lose your domain name. 1. Keep all your renewals in one place. If you have to keep up with domain registration, web hosting, and domain privacy renewals in different accounts, then remembering to do it all is harder. If you have multiple domains and websites and use different providers for each, then you’re adding a lot of unnecessary work to the process of staying on top of it all. If you use one company for all your website services, then renewing everything will only require one step. When you’re logged in, pay for everything coming due, and you’re done. So take a little time when you’re getting started to find a company you can trust to make your life easier for years to come.   2. Set up auto renewals. That one easy step we mentioned? Even that’s not actually necessary. If your provider offers automatic renewals, you can let your domain name management run on autopilot. For as long as you want to keep your domain name, domain privacy plan, and web hosting, just keep the auto renewal option selected for them all. You can avoid doing any work at all—except for what you do to update and promote your website. And trust us, that’ll be enough work without adding domain name management on top of it. One Place for Domain Name Management HostGator offers domain name registration, domain privacy, web hosting, and an array of other useful services that you can manage all in one account. Getting started with HostGator is easy, and you can even use our website builder to make your initial design and future updates easy as well. HostGator can handle all of your domain needs, whether you need to register or transfer a domain name. We will help you manage your domain name and find the best web hosting plan for you and your needs. Contact our team of experts today for more information! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Find an Affordable Website Builder

The post How to Find an Affordable Website Builder appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’ve had a great idea for a website for a while and you’re finally ready to take the first steps to getting it built. Congratulations! But you’re a little worried about figuring out how to get started and, even more importantly, how to pay for building a new website. The good news is that you no longer have to choose between spending a lot of money on a professional website designer or learning how to code to do it yourself. You can build a website all on your own with limited to no web design skills by using a website builder. Even if your budget is especially limited, you can still find an inexpensive website builder that’s within your price range. Should I Use a Free Website Builder? Before we get into how to find a good affordable website builder, you may notice in your early research that there are actually some free website builders on the market. Even better than cheap ones, right? Not necessarily. Any company that offers a website builder has to make money in some way, so free website builders usually have trade offs or limitations that make them less useful than paying for an affordable website builder. There are a few common forms this takes: Ads – If they’re not making money from you directly, a website builder company may make their money by serving ads on your site. That could make your site look more cluttered and tacky, and distract your visitors from the messaging you want them paying attention to.Shared branding – In addition to serving ads, some website builders treat your website as a way to promote their brand. That could mean their logo somewhere on your page, or even right there in your URL, which would look something like yourname.theirname.com. This sets your own branding back by making it hard for visitors to differentiate you from the website builder’s brand and see your website as having a memorable, unique identity.Limited pages – This is a common limitation with free plans. In some cases, the most you can build on a free plan is a one-page website. That doesn’t give you much room to work with. Limited bandwidth – This is another big one. The amount of bandwidth you have affects how long your site takes to load and is especially an issue on sites that have media elements like audio, video, social media displays, or animation, which require more bandwidth to load. Visitors won’t wait around for a slow site to load, so if your website builder doesn’t offer enough or unlimited bandwidth, you’ll lose visitors because of it.Important features require a paid upgrade – For a lot of the companies that offer a free website builder plan, it’s a way to get your foot through the door so they can, eventually, convince you to upgrade to one of their paid plans. They do this by limiting the features in the free plan so that you’re likely to realize over time that actually you do need one of the paid plans. If none of that sounds like an issue for you, keep in mind that there’s still a catch: for most of these free website builders, if you create a website and decide down the line you want to switch to a different website builder, you can’t take what you’ve already built with you. You’ll have to start from scratch. If your website’s URL is a subdomain of the website builder’s URL (e.g. the yoursite.theirsite.com situation we described earlier), any visibility you’ve built for your initial website will be lost as well in the move to a new URL. In other words, if your website is a personal passion project and you’re sure you won’t ever care about personal branding, ecommerce website options, or other brands’ ads on your site, then a free website builder could make sense. For everyone else, you’ll be better off starting with the right affordable website builder so you can stick with it as you grow.   How Much Do Affordable Website Builders Actually Cost? Paying for a good website builder doesn’t have to break your budget. The most affordable website builders cost in the range of $4-$25 a month. Most companies offer several web builder packages, so pay attention to how the costs and features compare for the different plans. If there are any features you’re okay without now, but you may want in coming years, be aware now what the cost of an upgrade will be. You don’t want to pick the option that seems the cheapest now, only to pay more over the long-term when you need to upgrade to a business website and switch out your basic plan. Also pay attention to the deals you sign. In many cases, a lower cost comes with a longer-term commitment. That could be fine if you do enough research going in to be sure of your choice, but you don’t want to feel stuck with a website builder you don’t like because you agreed to a three-year commitment to save a couple of bucks a month. What Features Should I Look for in an Inexpensive Website Builder? When you’re weighing your options, be sure to consider the features each website builder has to offer, not just the cost. The cheapest plans may be missing key features you need, especially if you run a business website, and paying just a little bit more could get a website builder with all the functional benefits you need both now and in the long term. While there are many benefits of using a simple website builder, it’s still important that you outline your future site goals so you choose the best website builder plan for your future. Here are some of the top features to consider when browsing different website builders. Necessary Features To start, there are a few features you definitely don’t want to skimp on. Consider these a necessity when perusing your options. A website builder that doesn’t offer them won’t provide what you need for a successful website. Ease of use – If you have to spend hours learning how to use a new website builder, then it’s not providing a great value—even if it didn’t cost much. Your time is worth something too. Look for a website builder that boasts drag-and-drop functionality and intuitive editing tools. Ideally, you should be able to jump right in and start building your website the same day you purchase. Educational resources – While a good website builder shouldn’t require you to spend much time learning the ropes, a good library of educational resources (tutorials and articles) will ensure that you know all the different features available, are able to make the most of them, and have access to easy answers whenever you have a question.Customer Support – Just as importantly, any time you run into confusion and need assistance from an actual human being, you should be able to trust someone will be available and helpful at the moment you need them. Check that your website builder offers customer service and has a good reputation for it. Website Templates – Building a website with a website builder usually starts with design templates. By having a well designed starting point, all the other changes you make come much easier. And having a good looking template to start with really makes a difference in the quality of the end result. Look for a website builder that offers multiple templates for you to choose from, and you’ll have no problem creating a beautiful site. Mobile-friendly compatibility – People now do more of their browsing on mobile devices than on their computers, which is exactly why you need a mobile responsive website. If your website does not have a responsive design, you’ll lose visitors. Plain and simple. For a website that all your visitors can interact with, go with a website builder that makes it easy to make your website mobile friendly. Nice-to-Have Features Along with the essentials, there’s a good chance you’ll want your website builder to offer some useful additional options. These won’t necessarily be required for all websites, but they’ll be important for some to have and useful for others. Multiple pages – Before you choose a website builder, consider how many pages you’ll want your website to have. And not just right now, will you need room for it to grow in the months and years to come? Some of the most affordable website builder plans put a limit on the number of pages you can create. That will be fine for some sites, but become a big problem for others. Custom domain – Most website builders that you pay for will offer the option of having a custom domain. With many, you’ll need to pay separately for the domain name, but some will include it in the cost. Confirm if you’ll be able to use a custom domain at all, and whether or not you should anticipate it costing extra.SEO (search engine optimization) features – Creating a website is one thing, getting people to see and interact with it is another. If you care about people finding your website, then you should start thinking about SEO now. Check for helpful SEO features that make it easy to perform on-site optimization for your pages (customizing the fields that matter to Google, such as your URL, title, and image tags).Media features – Will your website ever include media like audio or video? If so, make sure the website builder you choose is set up for the bandwidth those feature require and make it easy to load them to your site. Security features – Hackers abound, which is why you must protect your website from hackers at all costs. If your website isn’t secure, you risk hackers taking it over or stealing sensitive information your customers provide you. Security features like an SSL certificate or compatibility with security hardware are crucial if you’ll be accepting payment information through your ecommerce store, and are still useful to have if you’re not. E-commerce functionality – Will you be using your website to sell items on an online store? If so, a website builder that allows you to add a shopping cart and secure checkout process is a must.   Your costs when investing in a website builder will have a lot to do with which of these features you need, and which you can easily live without. Even if you need some advanced features though, you can still save money when looking for an inexpensive website builder. 4 Ways to Save Money When Investing in a Website Builder If looking at your options still has you worried about the costs of getting the website builder you need, there are some potential ways to make the money you spend go further. 1. Only pay for what you need. If your website will be fairly simple and you don’t expect much traffic from day one (most people won’t get a lot of traffic right away), then you don’t need to invest in a high-level website builder plan with lots of different features. Figure out what features you actually need now, and find the most affordable website builder that offers those. But do also consider the features you anticipate needing in the coming years as you grow, and consider the cost of future upgrades when making your decision. The most affordable option for the long term may be different than the one that’s cheapest for right now, and you may be better off spending a little more now to save later. 2. Look for bundles or packages. Some website builders include other services you’ll need in the price. For example, HostGator’s website builder comes with free web hosting—something every website requires to go live on the web. Web hosting is another monthly cost, so saving that money pays off for you in the long term. Similarly, if a website builder package allows you to register a domain name for free or includes free ecommerce features, that could save you money on services you’d be paying extra for anyways. Pay attention to what’s included in the website builder packages you consider before making a final decision. 3. Wait for specials. Like any other type of business, the companies that provide website builders often offer specials and sales. Making your purchase at the right time could earn you a discount. Often these fall at the times of year that sales are common for other companies, like Black Friday, Labor Day, or  Memorial Day. If you have your eye on a particular website builder, or a few, sign up for the company’s email list so you’ll be alerted if the company’s plans go on sale. Many website builders offer referral or affiliate programs, so you may be able to score a discount at any time of year if you have a friend that’s a current customer or you learn about the website builder from an affiliate who provides a discount code. And you can save money on your renewals over time by taking advantage of those programs yourself and sharing your discount code with others. 4. Pay for a couple of years upfront. Many website builders offer a different monthly price to customers that sign up for a long-term commitment. If you’re not entirely sure about the website builder you choose, this option could be risky. But if you’re confident you’ll be sticking with your website builder for years to come, then agreeing to be a customer for one, two, or three years and paying upfront can save you a considerable percentage versus paying month to month and reserving the right to cancel at any time. Get Started with an Affordable Website Builder You could easily spend weeks studying up on all the different features and options available in different website builders. Or you can cut the process short by checking out HostGator’s website builder to see if it matches everything you need. If you have any questions about how it all works and what’s included, our support team is available 24/7 to provide answers. And you won’t have to worry about finding and buying web hosting separately, as it comes included (and from one of the most well respected web hosting companies out there). Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Which Is Better for Your Small Business?

The post Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Which Is Better for Your Small Business? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Which Is Better for Small Business? Small business owners must make the best advertising decision for their bottom line. It’s a daunting task that requires patience and market research. With so many possibilities, you’ll want to consider your business goals and customers. YourStory contributor Sromona Bhattacharyya, shares her insight: “Selecting the perfect platform for advertisement requires a lot of prior research and efforts… Your customer’s attention is constantly changing from one platform to another… It’s important for any company to decide where their customers pay attention and get back to basics.” Ready to evaluate your advertising options? Here’s a guide to show you when to use Google Ads versus Facebook Ads.   When to Use Google Ads   1. You Want To Reach Local Audiences Most small businesses cater to distinct audiences within their geographical locations. You’re selling winter coats to consumers in Chicago and not folks in Miami. In addition to eCommerce, some businesses have a local storefront. Google Ads makes it easy to become a resource for your local consumer base. With local search ads, you can earn more foot traffic and get more phone inquiries from consumers. Plus, you can provide your audience with critical information, like your address and store hours. If you own multiple stores in a local area, you’ll want to build unique landing pages specific to that area. These pages should highlight the different services and include local testimonials. This strategy ensures site visitors receive information that match their needs. Another idea is to run an ad promotion. Buyers are more likely to visit your store if they know you’re offering a sale. You’ll gain local visibility with Google Ads as part of your plan. More consumers entering into your store means more chances to increase your sales.   2. You Want To Generate Leads Bringing in new customers is key for your small business. But you don’t want every consumer, you need qualified leads that resemble your target audience. Lead generation comes with its own challenges. Acquiring new leads can be expensive. Research shows it costs 7 times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. If you don’t want to spend your entire budget on gaining new leads, then Google Ads may be the right solution for your small business. Matt Ackerson, founder of AutoGrow, explains: “If you have a micro budget, you’re going to pinch your pennies. With a Google AdWords account, you can generate more leads without spending a ton of cash. You can then focus your efforts on creating a product or service that will maximize your AdWords ROI.” Google Ads allows you to reach customers with highly-targeted keywords. With lead generation, specificity works in your favor. It’s better to connect with an audience that’s searching for “college basketball shorts,” rather than just “basketball.”   3. You Want a Variety of Ad Types Online shoppers peruse multiple places on the web. You can find them looking for a solution via a search engine or watching endless cat videos on YouTube. It’s important for your advertising to reflect their whereabouts. Google Ads offers your small business various avenues to connect with your audience. Depending on your goals, you want to select a campaign type based on your desired actions from potential customers. For instance, you may develop a Search Network campaign to increase your leads. Then, your team may create a Video campaign to secure sales. Check out the video below to learn which ad campaign type is right for your business. After selecting your ad type, it’s time to think about the actual ad. You want it to speak to the consumers’ needs. It should be specific and build an instant connection. If your team doesn’t possess visual branding expertise, it’s recommended to outsource the task to a design professional. Hire a freelancer to create your graphics or edit your video footage. All these details help attract the right consumers.   When to Use Facebook Ads   1. You Want to Reach Niche Audiences Selling to the masses is a difficult endeavor; it’s hard persuading everyone your product fits their needs. Instead, some small businesses stick to niche audiences—a unique group of consumers in the market. Facebook Ads gives you the flexibility to serve niche audiences. Sherman Standberry, COO and cofounder of LYFE Marketing, explains: “Facebook advertising can help you expand into new markets. If you are bringing a new product or service to market, you can use Facebook advertising to increase its exposure. Facebook advertising will help you test the market, at your own pace.” To advertise to niche audiences, you should collect detailed information about your consumers. You’ll want to target a specific age range, gender, and location. Then, take it a step further by pinpointing their purchasing behaviors, mobile device usage, languages, and connections. Personalization is crucial when developing your first Facebook Ad campaign. Explore ways to develop a brand lifestyle that relates to your niche audience.   2. You Want Brand Awareness Without advertising, small businesses can go unnoticed by consumers. Your marketing campaigns become simply background noise for your large competitors. Facebook Ads helps level the playing field. It can draw awareness to small brands by reaching your targeted audience. The purpose of brand awareness varies based on your customer lifecycle journey. For some companies, it means introducing a brand to a new audience. Other businesses use it as a way to bring their brand to the forefront for interested consumers. With Facebook Ads awareness campaigns, your team can set its own objectives. The platform focuses on helping you expand your reach, whether it’s a carousel of images or a video. Before launching your ad, consider how you want to tell your brand story. Each ad should build a bridge between your business and the audience. Work with a copywriter to hone your brand’s voice and tone. Learn which words will appeal to your consumers’ emotions and compel them to learn about your products. Your business deserves the attention. Facebook Ads helps you target the right consumers.   3. You Want to Capture Mobile Traffic According to analytics firm Flurry, Americans spend up to five hours per day on their mobile devices. It’s a significant indicator for companies to spend more resources on mobile ads. The experts at Matchcraft offer this perspective: “Mobile traffic is important as smartphone penetration continues to increase and 4G data networks expand. Plenty of people break up their work day by glancing at their phones for some social media time, giving you access to your mobile audience.” Facebook suggests running your ads within its family of apps and services, including Audience Network, Instagram, and Messenger. That way, your advertising spreads across various platforms, earning your business better results. You also can manage Facebook ads on the go. Your team can now pause campaigns, edit budgets, and view insights directly from the mobile app. There’s no excuses for getting key data to operate your small business. Consumers aren’t stationary; they live and shop on the go. So, integrate Facebook Ads into your mobile outreach strategy.   What Works for Your Small Business? Advertising is a huge opportunity for small businesses to attract customers. But with so many different options, it’s overwhelming to choose the best platform. For starters, examine your goals and customers’ behaviors. Google Ads offers better results for local audiences and lead generation. Facebook Ads is useful for niche audiences and brand awareness. Choose your platform. Get the results. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

They Like Us! Reviews of HostGator’s Website Builder

The post They Like Us! Reviews of HostGator’s Website Builder appeared first on HostGator Blog. HostGator affiliates had the first chance to review and demo our new Gator Website Builder before it was released to the public in early 2019. Here are some of their reviews and thoughts on the products… 1.Gator Website Builder handles all the software, updates, and backups. “Gator is a fully hosted platform, so you don’t have to worry about the software, updates, or backups…Since Gator is a paid product, they don’t sell your data or show any ads on your website.” – WPBeginner If you’re trying to build your very first website (or if you’re short on time), the thought of researching software, learning how to do software updates, scheduling software updates, and managing regular website backups…it can all feel overwhelming. The simplicity of an all-in-one package is one of the biggest benefits of HostGator’s new Gator Website Builder. The website builder package handles all the software updates and backups so you can focus on a great website. 2. The drag-and-drop editor gives you perfect control. “We especially appreciate how Gator’s drag-and-drop interface gives users pixel-perfect control while still suggesting guides and grids for appropriate spacing. Throughout the customization and design phase, users can seamlessly switch between desktop and mobile views to understand how your site will appear to all visitors…sit back and enjoy the confidence in having such a well-rounded tool at their design disposal.” – HostingAdvice.com The drag-and-drop editor that comes with Gator Website Builder gives you full control of where to add elements on a page, and even makes grid-like suggestions on ideas of where elements may fit best. All design templates are mobile-friendly, meaning the design automatically adjusts to the screen size of your website visitor. The drag-and-drop editor allows you to switch between the desktop and mobile view, and you can edit content in each view independently if you want. 3. So many buttons… “There are a good range of elements in most of the key areas, though: six button types, multiple live feeds (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram), various PayPal buttons (Buy Now, Add To Cart, Donate, Check Out) and a range of social media features – social links, sharing icons, Like buttons, Follow buttons and more.” – Techradar All of the design templates come with pre-populated pages that you can customize for your needs. You can add as many elements as you need, from buttons, Google maps, contact forms, and more. No need to know coding languages or go out to various websites for the API code you need, it’s all built into the website builder. 4. Impressive unlimited bandwidth and storage. “Impressively, HostGator – being a top hosting provider – covers its website builder with unlimited bandwidth and storage. This means that there’s no limit on the amount of content, or visitors, your site can handle. In our eyes, this makes Gator a perfect choice for websites that need big image galleries, such as real estate brochures.” That’s right! You’ll be surprised that the low cost includes unlimited pages on your website, plus unmetered storage space and unmetered bandwidth. Unmetered means you aren’t charged for the amount of space that you use. Other website builders put a cap on your storage or charge you to move up in storage space. HostGator’s Website Builder is equipped to handle the amount of content and photos you can throw at it! 5. Robust photo repository and free stock photos. “You can upload multiple images at a time, and everything you upload is stored in an online repository to reuse…If you don’t have pictures of your own, Gator includes a healthy selection of stock photography…Even more impressive, it’s all royalty-free. Several other site  builders…charge you for much of their stock photography.” – PCMag Check out the PCMag review for examples of how Gator Website Builder compares to its competitors. Gator Website Builder comes with a robust photo gallery of stock images that you can use royalty-free on your website. The photos are organized into 18 categories, including architecture, cars, hotels, and sports. No need to go search for photos on the internet, wondering if they are free. These photos are already loaded with your account to use throughout your website as you need. The website builder also includes photo storage to import your own business photos or embed photos via a website link. You can build photo galleries as well. 6. The premade templates are a “blessing in blogging world.” “These pre-made templates will prove to be a “blessing in blogging world” as it will save you tons of time and money…Many other platforms give you only one choice of either a basic website or a blogging platform but Gator gives you both. This is probably the biggest plus of this program that makes Gator stands out more than others…Blog away and start a side hustle that can actually generate a steady income for you.” – Speaking of Cents Gator Website Builder comes with more than 200 professionally-designed templates. The templates are organized by categories such as music & entertainment, pets & animals, and photography so you can quickly find a theme that suits your needs. The website builder has an integrated blog. But you don’t have to start a blog right away, the option is always available and is free to add on whenever you are ready. Thanks to these affiliate team members for reviewing the Gator Website Builder! What about you? Have you tried Gator Website Builder yet? What feature are you most interested to try? Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Responsive Web Design Examples

The post Responsive Web Design Examples appeared first on HostGator Blog. When building a new website or considering a new design for a site you already have, one of the best ways to clarify what you want and get some inspiration is to spend time looking at examples of other websites. For web designers, looking at the layout or design of other websites can spark ideas for how to approach the website you’re working on. And for business owners or amateur website owners who struggle to communicate what they want visually, it’s much easier to analyze what you like and don’t like about another website than it is to figure out what you want from scratch. For modern website design projects, it’s not enough to spend time perusing website examples on desktop alone. A majority of web users today do their searching, browsing, and shopping on mobile devices. When you’re building your website, you have to think about mobile. And that means when you’re searching for inspiration you should as well. What you need is to look for responsive web design examples. What is Responsive Web Design? Responsive web design is the dominant trend in web design today. Responsive websites are designed to look good on all possible screen sizes, while still providing the same information and page elements no matter the device. Designers pull this off by changing the way page layout elements are organized on the website, rather than changing what elements are included. For a simple example, a website that has text and and an image show up side by side on a desktop screen could have the text move below the image when the same page loads on a mobile device. In the coding, designers tell websites how to recognize the type of device or screen size the site is loading on, and change how it appears accordingly. Hence the name “responsive website design”—the website responds to the screen size it’s being viewed on. Responsive website design has become the norm because it’s Google’s preference, which makes it good for search engine optimization (SEO), and because it provides a straightforward way to ensure your mobile visitors get a good experience without having to design a separate mobile website. Having one responsive website versus different websites for different devices saves you the trouble of having to do twice as much work during the initial design phase and for ongoing maintenance. And it means your website will work on the growing range of device types and screen sizes that have now come onto the scene.   In short, whatever type of website you’re looking to build, responsive web design is widely considered the best choice. Why Look at Responsive Web Design Examples? Looking at examples of responsive web design with a flexible layout is a valuable way to come to your own website design project with clearer idea of how you want your website to look. In particular, reviewing examples will help you do a few things. 1. You can see different organization styles. One of the challenges of responsive web design is figuring out how to organize both your website in general and each individual page in particular in a way that remains intuitive and useful no matter the device type. You shouldn’t assume your own experiences and preferences are good enough for this. By looking at the choices other skilled designers have made, you’ll gain an understanding of the overall best practices in responsive website organization. 2. You’ll see how different types of websites approach responsive web design. Different types of websites have different goals. An eCommerce website has the goal of driving sales, while an entertainment site wants to you spend time on the site consuming content. When you view a lot of different responsive websites, you’ll start to see how the different design choices are influenced by a website’s particular goals. That’s good information to bring into your own website’s design. 3. You’ll get a feel for how a good website hierarchy works. Designing your website with a visual hierarchy means thinking through which parts of each page are most important and making sure the design centers them. A common website building mistake is not creating a mobile-responsive web design. It’s especially important for responsive web design, where many of the visitors viewing your website on smaller devices will see less of the page they’re on at a given time. You want to make sure that the most important parts of the page are placed higher up in the design, and that key features and links like your main menu and call to action (CTA) are easy to find. 4. You’ll gain insights into why designers organize things the way they did. As you browse different websites, think about why pages are organized the way they are. Analyze the design choices made in each case: consider how images are used, and where different links, buttons, and other features are placed. Think about the usability of the site and how the overall viewing experience is compared to others. Don’t just take in how the website looks on different devices, think about why. Asking those questions will reveal insights that help you make better design decisions for your own website. 5. You may see examples of design choices to avoid. You can learn a lot from good responsive web design examples, but you can learn just as much from those that don’t work for you. As you browse a website and click around to see different pages or take different actions, pay attention to anything that’s harder to do on a small screen than a desktop. Consider any page elements that don’t look quite right on some screen sizes, because they were clearly designed for others. Those insights will help you determine what not to do. How to Look at Responsive Web Design Examples You don’t have to go out and buy a multitude of device types to see how responsive websites look on all of them. A number of handy responsive design testing tools will let you see how websites look on different screen sizes all from the same device. If you have a computer, tablet, and smartphone you can use to supplement your research, it’s always good to get that more direct experience as well. But to see a larger number of examples in a more efficient way, a tool like Resizer (which we used for all the screenshots below) will make the process more efficient. 15 Responsive Web Design Examples Now that we’ve laid out a convincing argument for why you should pay attention to a variety of responsive web design examples, we’ll help you get right to it. We’ve compiled a list of responsive websites with a variety of website types and subjects covered. Business Responsive Design Examples Every business needs a website these days, and every business website should be responsive in order to reach prospective customers no matter how they come to your site. Here are a few examples of businesses that got the message and created responsive business websites. 1. CliftonLarsonAllen LLP Finance, outsourcing, and tax firm CliftonLarsonAllen is a good example of visual hierarchy in a website. You’ll notice all three of the main versions of their responsive website center the same image, message, and call to action (CTA) button. Can you tell what action they want visitors to take? Each website version also provides a number of clear links to learn more based the types of services the visitor is interested in, all of which are easy to spot as you scroll (or right there on the first screen in some cases). 2. The Living Well Women’s health and wellness company, The Living Well, has a simple image-focused website that provides the same information across device types. The initial logo, tagline, and menu items are visible on all versions and communicate what the business is all about. And prospective customers can learn more about the women behind the business and the specific services available by scrolling down, clicking on the relevant links obvious on the page, or following the social buttons that are visible on all screen sizes. 3. Yard Bar The dog park bar and restaurant Yard Bar also has a responsive website that centers images. The sliding images prominently feature the main things you need to know about the business: it’s all about food, drinks, and dogs. Across devices, scrolling down provides more information about those three main categories, plus happy hour times. Anyone visiting the site from any device can quickly learn what the business is about and the main information they need to know before heading over. 4. Bonsai Freelance business software company Bonsai has a clean and clear responsive website. Like CliftonLarsonAllen, they make the main message and CTA clear on the site across devices. The website offers a good example of moving or removing certain elements that are less important on the smaller screen. While for the most part, the page is the same across the devices, the larger screens have a form for providing your email right there on the page. To save space, the mobile version moves the form off the home page, but keeps the CTA there (once you click, you get to a form field). It makes the space look cleaner, while still providing the same basic information and options. 5. Salt Lick Cellars The winery Salt Lick Cellars is another business website that centers images, which makes sense for a business in an industry that often draws customers in with beautiful views. While the cut of the main image on the smartphone screen is smaller—you don’t see as expansive a view of the photo, you still get the main idea of it, along with intuitive access to the menu (a hamburger menu in the top right), and an image directing you to scroll down for more information. eCommerce Responsive Design Examples While business websites have an ultimate goal of trying to sell a product or service, eCommerce websites are trying to make the sale in a more direct fashion—right there on the website itself. It’s worth seeing some examples of how different eCommerce sites use their responsive design to do that across devices. When designing an eCommerce website, it’s especially important that you make your site mobile responsive and easy to use. 6. Paper & Ink Arts Paper & Ink Arts has all the same elements on its mobile homepage as on the desktop and tablet versions, but because of the way the same elements take up different amounts of space, the homepage has a bit of a different feel between devices. The image slideshow that dominates the screen on the larger devices, becomes a smaller banner on mobile in order to make room for other promotions. And the menu is squished into a hamburger menu in order to make space at the top for easy access to search, contact information, and the shopping cart. The choices make clear the company’s priority to make sales, and make it easy for visitors to get in touch. 7. Penzeys Penzeys looks like they designed their main menu with the mobile experience in mind. With four simple categories that take up a narrow amount of space on the larger screens, the menu fits perfectly on the smartphone-sized screen. All three screens make the checkout button in orange and free shipping offer in red in the top right corner obvious. While all versions let the central image that dominates the screen be the tasty-looking images of recipes you can make using the company’s spices (a compelling reason to buy). 8. Bon Bon Bon Like many of the business websites, chocolate shop Bon Bon Bon puts an image with an obvious CTA front and center. It has an image slider, so the image and CTA change, but the CTA is always in a bright red button. As with Paper & Ink though, Bon Bon Bon lets the main image get smaller so it’s more like a banner ad, in order to let some of the other page elements onto the screen on mobile. And the shopping cart and Information link to find contact information remain clear at the top on the mobile screen. 9. Chewy.com The online pet supply store Chewy.com looks very similar across the three devices, with the main difference being the common responsive choice to make the menu into a compressed hamburger menu. This is a rare example of a responsive website where the main image on mobile doesn’t load to fit the screen—you notice it’s cut off, but visitors have the option to scroll left to right to see the parts of the photo you can’t see here. All three versions prominently feature the search bar, to make it easy for visitors to find specific products. And all have the obvious 30% off offer in orange. 10. Pacha Soaps Pacha Soaps has a pretty similar look across devices. As is common in the other websites we’ve seen, they have sliding images that dominate the screen in all three versions. Unlike some of the other examples, the image takes up more screen real estate rather than less on the smartphone screen. While small, they keep the brown menu with their free shipping and social handle information present throughout screen sizes, while switching to a hamburger menu for their main menu on the smaller screen. Personal Website Responsive Design Examples Even if you’re building a personal website to share your passion, rather than sell products or promote a business, it’s worth making your website responsive. Here are a few responsive web design examples from personal websites people have built around their passions. 11. The April Blake April Blake’s blog is primarily focused on sharing recipes she cooks and occasional musings. Her website looks very similar across screen sizes, with just a couple of small differences. The social icons at the very top of the page on desktop are removed on the smaller screens, and the main menu is compressed to a hamburger menu. Otherwise it’s simply a matter of re-arranging the elements on the page to better fit the screen. 12. House of Hipsters Kyla Herbes home design blog, House of Hipsters, changes little between device types. The menu switches to a drop-down menu, the title banner at the top becomes smaller, and the right-side menu moves down the page on the smaller devices. But otherwise, the site’s essentially the same no matter where you’re coming from. 13. I Am Aileen Lifestyle and travel blogger I Am Aileen’s responsive website centers a image slideshow on all device sizes, with an obvious search bar and social icons above it. The main menu becomes a hamburger menu on mobile, and the boxes of content and images below the main image become stacked on the smaller screen. 14. The Frugal Girl The Frugal Girl blog keeps the logo and tagline visible at the top across website types, and centers the top blog post in all three versions. The main menu becomes a hamburger menu on the smallest screen, and the information and images in the right-side menu get pushed to the bottom. 15. Budget Bytes Finally, the recipe site Budget Bytes centers the image and details of the most recent recipe on all device sizes, but moves the details and name below the image on the mobile device. The logo and website name show up at the top in all three versions. And, as is common in our examples, the main menu is replaced with a hamburger menu in the mobile version, along with a search icon to make more space at the top of the screen. While the images and names of additional recipes show up side by side below the main image on the two larger screens, they become stacked on the mobile device. Ready to Create a Responsive Website? As all these examples demonstrate, there are a number of ways to organize a responsive website that works equally well on all device types. And you don’t have to be a big business with a large budget to create a responsive website—many of these examples are of small businesses or individuals. If you want a simple, affordable way to create a responsive website, the Gator Website Builder has over 100 responsive templates that provide a headstart to putting together a website that looks good and works across device types. To get started with building your website, give our professionals a call at HostGator to find the right web hosting option for you. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Website Builder Comparison

The post Website Builder Comparison appeared first on HostGator Blog. When the time comes to build your new website, you’re going to have a lot of different types of website builders available. Even though the search might be a little overwhelming, this is actually a good thing. Back in the day, it was much more difficult to build a website and use to involve having to hire out the work. But, the plethora of beginner-friendly tools available today makes the process of building your website much simpler, and even enjoyable. The two main options you’ll probably consider are using WordPress or a website builder. Although they both accomplish the same general goal you’ll find that the process for doing so differs greatly. Below we’ll explore what a website builder is, how it works, provide a website builder comparison,and finally offer you some advice for choosing the best option for your needs. What Is a Website Builder? At the core, a website builder is a tool that lets you quickly create a website without any previous design or programming experience. Most of these builders will come equipped with drag and drop or point and click functionality that’ll allow you to easily add and remove site elements. Website builders are usually equipped with dozens or even hundreds of different starting themes or pre-made templates. These act as the foundation for your new website. Usually, you’ll find themes that cater to different niches or industries, as well as offering eCommerce specific themes. They’ll also be fully responsive, mobile-friendly, and based on the latest web design trends. Depending on the builder you’re using you might also have access to tools that allow you to turn your site into an eCommerce store, including shopping cart capabilities. You’ll find dozens of different website builders to choose from. Some are purely built for eCommerce, where other’s let you create a myriad of different types of sites.   Right here at HostGator, you’ll find a website builder that’s perfect for beginners, that includes the option to add eCommerce functionality to your website. Advantages of a Website Builder Website builders are incredibly popular, because they make building a website almost too simple. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using a site builder: 1. Very Easy to Use Website builders shine in how easy they are to use. Even if this is your first day on the internet, you could figure out how to use a website builder software. If you’re intimidated by things that are technical in nature, then a website builder is perfect for your needs. Not only are website builders created to be very intuitive, but you’ll find a wealth of tutorials that’ll walk you through building your site step-by-step as well. 2. Speedy Site Creation Website builders are fast. Fire up the tool, select your theme, drag and drop your site customizations, then hit publish. With website builders, you don’t have to worry about things like domain name propagation, site maintenance, and other technical tasks that might slow you down. 3. No Technical Skills Needed When you use a CMS like WordPress you’re responsible for all the technical tasks required to get your site online. Plus, things like ongoing maintenance and website updates. When you use a website builder all these things are taken care of for you from your web host. Also, when you’re building out your site, you’ll never have to adjust or code anything yourself. Drawbacks of a Site Builder Even though website builders are great for a variety of reasons, they’re not a perfect fit for everyone. Here are the most common drawbacks you’ll find when using a site builder: 1. Limited Site Functionality With website building, you’re limited to the features that are included with the builder. Any new features or functionality need to be added and approved by the team who created the tool, so new features will be added at a slower rate. If you need to create a site with extensive features, you might want to consider using something like WordPress.   2. Stuck to a Platform Depending on the website builder software you’re using, you might be stuck using that tool for the lifetime of your site. Most website builders aren’t cross-compatible, so if you want to move platform or hosts, then there’s a good chance you’ll have to rebuild your site from scratch. 3. Might Run Into Builder Limitations If you want to build a content heavy site or a massive eCommerce store, then you’ll probably run into the limits of whatever website builder you’re using. Overall, it depends on how well your website builder can scale up to support larger projects. In some cases, you might end up paying a very high monthly fee just to be able to support a larger site. When Should I Use a Website Builder? Website builders are generally best suited for specific types of websites. Simple sites that don’t require too many pages or complex functionality are well-suited for website builders. Generally, this applies to several types of websites you can create, like portfolio websites, small business sites, creative sites for musicians and other artists, sites offering your freelance services, and even simple eCommerce shops. If you’re building a site like one of those mentioned above, and want to get your site online as fast as possible, then consider using a website builder. Website builders will help you save time and get rid of any complex tasks standing in the way of getting your site online. Popular website builders often come with web hosting included, so you don’t have to worry about finding a host and going through the technical steps of configuring your hosting account to work with your new site. What is WordPress? WordPress originally started as a website builder, but in time has morphed into a full-fledged content management system (CMS). This makes it perfect for sites that either has a lot of content or are planning to scale up content creation in the future. The single aspect of WordPress that trips up a lot of beginners is the fact that there are two different versions of WordPress available. The first is a self-hosted version of WordPress, where you host a site using the WordPress.com subdomain. In this case, your URL will read something like “catsanddogs.wordpress.com”. Using this version will give you access to a handful of themes and some basic features. However, taking this route isn’t recommended as your theme customizations and plugin access will be limited. Along with only getting access to a restricted feature set your domain name won’t be the most professional or sharable since you won’t have a branded domain. The other version of WordPress is fully downloadable and you install the CMS on your own server. If that sounds difficult, don’t worry, most hosts have bundled software installers that make it incredibly easy to install WordPress and configure it properly within minutes. Similar to a website builder, WordPress also relies upon themes that act as the foundation for the rest of your site’s customizations. You’ll find a ton of different free and premium themes to choose from that will give you endless customization options. You select a theme, install it, then customize it to make your own personalized website design. The process of customizing your theme will depend upon the theme you’re using. Some themes will operate in a drag and drop fashion, while others will handle there customizations via a theme setting panel, or the use of shortcodes. Plus, you have access to a massive library of popular WordPress plugins, which will allow you to add even more features to your site. Overall, WordPress gives you a lot of control over how your site looks on the web. However, all of this control and flexibility means that there’s a much steeper learning curve when compared to using a website builder. Advantages of WordPress WordPress is a powerful and flexible tool.Here are some of the most common reasons people choose WordPress:: 1. Incredibly Flexible WordPress really shines in its flexibility. You’re truly only limited by your own imagination (and your technical skills). With WordPress, you not only have a massive theme selection but a nearly endless plugin library as well. Since it’s an open-source platform, there’s no limit to what can be built to unlock the power of WordPress. However, with this added flexibility and ability to create to your heart’s desire there’s a steeper learning curve and a lot more things you’ll need to master to get your site up and running. 2. Gives You a Lot of Power WordPress has a powerful internal engine. It has everything you need to get to where you want to go. That means you can build virtually any kind of site you desire. Plus, it has the necessary technical foundation to scale with you as your site grows. Some of the largest sites in the world, including TechCrunch, BBC America, and the HostGator blog, utilize WordPress to power their sites. Drawbacks of WordPress Still, WordPress isn’t perfect. Right out of the gate it has a higher learning curve. Here are some of the most common reasons people will opt for a simpler solution: 1. Higher Learning Curve WordPress is a beginner-friendly CMS. But, there are a bunch of technical tasks that you’ll need to accomplish before your site will be online. And the more features you want to add to your WordPress site, the more technical it’ll be to setup your site the right way. Luckily, you’ll be able to find extensive documentation, tutorials, and how-to guides that can walk you through almost everything. However, it might take some trial and error to get your site how you like it. 2. Might Need to Edit Code If you truly want to get the most out of WordPress you might have to edit some code. For some, this can be a very intimidating process, but others won’t mind getting their hands dirty and learn a bit about how their site’s work. You won’t have to write anything from scratch. But, sometimes you might need to copy and paste existing code, or fire up the HTML editor and add WordPress shortcodes and more. When Should I Use WordPress? WordPress will help you build content-heavy websites. The range of sites you can build using WordPress is quite vast, from basic blogs to massive highly-trafficked sites with thousands of pages of content. Put simply, it’s quite scalable. If you’re building a very simple website, then you might not require the power that WordPress can provide. However, if you have plans to scale up your website, or you simply want a higher level of control over your website, then WordPress is worth considering. You still might be wondering, is WordPress a website builder? At its core, WordPress doesn’t fit the traditional description of a site builder, but yes, it does help you build a website. Using WordPress will take more effort and technical knowledge. But, even if you’re starting at zero, you’ll be able to get a grasp on WordPress without spending too much time. Website Builder vs WordPress: Which Is Right for You? If you want to get a website online this afternoon and you don’t need any advanced features, then using a website builder can be a great option. By using a website builder all you have to do is select your template, make a few modifications, and publish your site. The entire process is very simple and straightforward. However, if time isn’t your biggest concern, and you want to use a platform that can grow with you and support any kind of site you desire, then using WordPress is a great idea. WordPress gives you more control over your site, and with access to the nearly endless supply of themes and plugins, you can create any kind of site you desire. Overall, a website builder will allow you to quickly build a beautiful and functional website without any coding skills. On the other hand, WordPress affords you immense flexibility and gives you a very powerful platform to build any kind of site. However, you can expect to put more time and learning into the building process. Hopefully, you have a better idea of how using a website builder vs. WordPress compare, as well as the right direction to take for your new site. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Choose a Website Design That Best Represents Your Business

The post How to Choose a Website Design That Best Represents Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. Websites are online storefronts to showcase your products and services. When choosing a website design, you want it to satisfy customers and represent your business. Your brand values will serve as a starting point when building your site. You’ll also need to consider the visitor’s experience. Every design feature should achieve a component of your overall website goal. With more ownership over your design, you can illustrate your business in a unique way. Here are 5 fundamentals to analyze when choosing a website design for your eCommerce site. 1. Design for Emotion Every single day, humans experience multiple emotions. External factors can influence customers, sparking feelings of happiness, sadness, or anger. When they visit your site, it’s your chance to direct them to a positive emotion. Effective emotional design will ignite a sense of pleasure and security for your visitors. It draws you in like a child in a candy store. Alan Smith, a contributing writer at Usability Geek, adds more context: “Understand the emotional purpose and utility of every design choice you make, or a bad choice may come back to haunt you. Choose fonts that feel like your corporate image, not ones that conflict with it. When pulling the website together, verify that all the individual pieces fit with each other as well as your message.” TOMS illustrates emotion in its website with a header design focused on a community initiative. The brand wants to bring people together to end gun violence and uses the peace sign as a cohesive gesture. Website design centers around sparking interest in potential consumers. By appealing to their emotions, you give them an opportunity to experience your brand’s personality.   2. Design for Storytelling One Spot reports that “messages delivered as stories can be up to 22X more memorable than just facts.” This research is a compelling opportunity for your brand to focus on storytelling. When designing for storytelling, the aim is to capture your audience’s attention and persuade them to view more pages with the promise of value. Enticing visitors along the way means they spend more time on your site than your competitors. Think of your homepage as the appetizer where potential customers can immediately see your brand values. The main course is the additional pages of your site, like the blog or product pages. Beardbrand highlights its Instagram feed as a storytelling feature. Each image offers an inside peek at the brand lifestyle and what customers should expect. It’s not necessary to tell a grandiose story on every inch of your site. Storytelling can take shape in your choice of fonts, icons, and buttons. Word choice matters, too. For instance, will you use the word “shopping bag” or “shopping cart”? Be bold. Use your website design to bring your brand story to life.   3. Design for Navigation Navigation helps visitors explore your online brand. When done right, it will lead your audience to what counts most to the customer. So, how important is navigation design? David Hoos, head of marketing at The Good, offers his perspective: “Website navigation can make or break your visitors’ experience. After all, navigating a site without a logical, well-defined structure is like being dropped in the middle of a complex maze with no map and no frame of reference. It’s overwhelming, frustrating, and all-around unpleasant — not exactly the effect you’re hoping for.” Heatmap and usability recording tools are helpful with understanding visitors’ behaviors on your site. Then, you can use that insight to improve how you organize your content. KitchenAid takes navigation to a whole new level. Rather than use just text, the company adds images to direct visitors to their desired paths. It’s very convenient for a busy online shopper. Navigation plays a critical role in your website design. Represent your business well with an easy-to-use menu and well-organized layout. Your customers will love you for it.   4. Design for Accessibility Accessibility gets overlooked in website design. Brands desire to attract as many people to their site, but they often forget the different needs of their consumers. In a broad sense, accessibility is all about designing your products, services, and brand experiences to cater to everyone, including different abilities. For example, if you had a physical store, you would build a ramp for individuals who use wheelchairs. The same principle holds true for online shoppers. You can add alt text to all your images; that way, screen readers can speak the text to visually impaired individuals. To accommodate people with color blindness, you can use symbols along with colors to convey a message. You might add an exclamation point to signify importance. Nike understands the significance of accessibility. You can navigate its website using your keyboard. With the tab key, a consumer can move through the different sections within a webpage. Accessibility is more than another add-on to your website. It’s your gateway to catering to all consumers and introducing them to your brand.   5. Design for Shopping Shopping should be an enjoyable experience. You want consumers to feel comfortable browsing the latest products and adding items to their carts. The brand-consumer relationship relies on trust. People want to patronize credible businesses. No one likes returning defective products or writing a negative Yelp review. With design, you can exude trustworthiness with testimonials from real customers, an honest pricing page (no hidden fees), and any recent brand achievements. These elements add to your brand’s integrity. Susan Ward, a small business expert and writer, agrees: “Successful e-commerce websites also provide information about customer service and contact information that is clear and accessible. Having to drill down through 50 pages to find an email address printed in a tiny font on the bottom of a page will give your potential customer queasy feelings, not good feelings.” Moreover, good design makes it effortless to shop. Fenty Beauty spotlights its featured products using categories and images. This design expedites the shopping experience. Move your brand forward with a design that emits trust. Your mission is to give customers a reason to come back to your site.   Represent Your Business Your website design is a reflection of your business. Take the time to decide how you want customers to perceive your online presence. To manage your website more efficiently, check out HostGator’s web design services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

VPS vs VPN

The post VPS vs VPN appeared first on HostGator Blog. VPS and VPN are two commonly confused terms. Their acronyms are similar, so it’s common for the two to get mixed up. However, they each refer to two very different types of services. Essentially, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a form of web hosting, while a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service and technology that allows you to remain completely private and anonymous when using the web. Even though these are very different services, they’re commonly grouped together due to their names. Mixing up these two terms can be confusing, especially when you’re just starting your journey online. Below we explore what a VPS is and how it works, along with how it differs from a VPN in our VPS vs VPN comparison. What is a VPS? Before we can do our comparison, it’s first important to identify what VPS hosting is and discuss how it is unique from other platforms. Like we mentioned in the introduction, VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s a form of web hosting offered by hosting companies that provide you with a virtual server environment to host your website. If that’s a bit confusing, we’ll break it down a bit further. A server is a computer that’s used to store website files and data. When you type a domain name into a browser the browser communicates with the server and renders all of the stored site files. There’s a multitude of different forms of web hosting, including dedicated hosting, shared hosting, managed hosting, WordPress VPS hosting, cloud hosting and more. VPS hosting uses virtualization technology to split a single physical server into multiple different virtual servers. This makes it so you have greater access to server resources, along with the ability to expand the virtual server when your needs arise. Since it’s a virtual server you’re not tied to the limitations of a single physical server. Also, since it’s a private server environment you won’t be sharing server resources with any other users. Now, you will be sharing actual physical servers, but with the employed virtualization technology there won’t be any overlap of server usage. How Does VPS Hosting Work? Let’s dig into what happens behind the scenes that allow VPS hosting to work. At the core, it operates similarly to software like VMware. This style of software enables you to run multiple virtualized operating systems from a single machine. So, if you currently have a MacBook running MacOS, you can quickly switch over to Windows 10 without having to restart your computer. A VPS server uses similar technology to run a virtual server environment. Let’s say you have a standard dedicated server. On top of that dedicated server, you can create several virtual servers that act as their own dedicated server environments.    Typically a VPS server will pull from multiple different dedicated servers as well. That way if one goes offline, or is undergoing routine maintenance it won’t affect the performance of your site. Each VPS server is completely isolated and private from any other virtual server that’s using the same physical server. Pros of VPS Hosting VPS hosting is a solid choice for users who need more than a shared server but aren’t quite ready for a dedicated server. Here are some of the biggest advantages of using VPS hosting: It’s cost-effective. With VPS hosting you basically have access to a dedicated server, without the cost of a physical dedicated server. Greater server customization. Generally, you’ll pay for what you want and be able to only add features that you require to run your website. Easy to scale your server. With VPS hosting you can gradually expand the number of server resources you have access to, and won’t have to pay for server resources you don’t require. Greater server control. When you compare VPS vs. shared hosting, you’ll get a higher level of access to your server, plus root access, and the ability to run certain server scripts. Solid technical support. With VPS hosting you’ll generally have access to improved technical support staff and will have more hand-holding when compared to a standard dedicated server. Cons of VPS Hosting Still, VPS hosting isn’t perfect for every kind of website owner. In fact, you should probably only consider VPS hosting once you’ve “graduated” from a shared hosting plan. When it’s time to migrate your shared hosting to VPS, you’ll be given more space and flexibility for managing your site. ,. Still, there are some disadvantages you’ll want to be aware of. Here are the biggest drawbacks to VPS hosting: It’s comparatively more expensive. If you’re coming from shared hosting, then know that VPS will be more expensive than shared hosting. It’s not as expensive as dedicated hosting. But the price will depend on your overall resource requirements. Overall, it’s cost effective, but you will be paying a higher monthly rate. You can run into resource allocation issues. In some cases, you can run into resource allocation issues. This is when another site running a VPS uses too large a volume of physical server resources and your site’s performance will slow down. However, this typically only happens if you’re using a low-quality VPS host.   When Should I Use VPS Hosting? VPS is a common next step after your site has outgrown the limits of a basic shared hosting plan. It’s a nice in-between for those who don’t want to upgrade to a fully dedicated server but can no longer use shared hosting. So, what is VPS hosting used for? Take a look at the situations below: You need speed and performance. If your site is growing in size and you’re experiencing a higher volume of traffic, then you’ll need a hosting plan that can keep up. VPS hosting is scalable and can support large and high-traffic sites. You need a custom server setup. With a VPS server you get more control over your server environment. Not only do you get root server access but you’ll have the ability to choose your own operating system and make other customizations as well. You want flexible server resources. With VPS hosting you can more easily scale up your server resource needs as your site grows, or you’re experiencing a large volume of traffic. Since you’re not constrained to a single physical server it’s much easier to expand your resource requirements. Essentially, a VPS offers you offers you the same benefits that a private server will give you, all while sharing the cost of hosting services. What is a VPN and How Does it Work? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Essentially, a VPN creates a private and secure network, which then extends across your entire network connection. It offers you a way to remain anonymous online, while securing any data that passes over the connection. Once you fire up your VPN software of choice your VPN client will automatically encrypt any data that are sent over a network connection. Before any data passes over a network connection first it’ll pass through the VPN. The VPN will then encrypt the traffic and pass it on. Any online portal you end up on will see the transmitted data as originating from the VPN server, not your home (or coffee shop) network. When you connect to the internet without a VPN enabled, any data you’re transmitting is essentially open to anyone with the right tools. For most situations, this will be perfectly fine, but if you’re sharing sensitive information, like your banking details, emails, or anything else, then you might want another layer of protection. When you’re using a VPN any data that you transmit over the internet goes directly from your ISP to the VPN server, then the VPN connects to the internet for you. This helps to diminish or completely reduce a lot of the most common security risks you’ll run into online. For example, when you’re using a VPN it’s very difficult to connect your computer back to any data that you’re transmitting. Plus, all of your data will be encrypted, so if your information is intercepted no one will be able to interpret your data. Pros of Using a VPN When you use a VPN you’ll help to keep yourself more secure while using the web. But, beyond achieving a higher level of security there’s a myriad of other benefits you’ll receive when using a VPN too. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using a VPN: Access georestricted content. A VPN allows you to get around certain content restrictions. For example, you might want to watch a Netflix show that isn’t available in your country. You can bypass this with a VPN. Protects your data. Since VPNs encrypt your data before sending it over the network, your data will always be safe and secure from prying eyes. Keeps you safe online. If you routinely access wi-fi networks that are unsecured, you can use a VPN to bolster your security and ensure you stay safe online. Not only will using a VPN give you all of those advantages above. But, it’s also surprisingly affordable. The monthly cost of a VPN is usually on par with a cheap shared hosting plan. Cons of Using a VPN Even though using a VPN is a great step to take towards protecting yourself online it isn’t without its drawbacks. Here are some of the most common drawbacks you’ll experience when using a VPN: Slower internet connection. Since a VPN adds layers of encryption to your data this will slow down your internet connection. If you already have a slow internet connection, this could make your internet connection virtually unusable. Security issues can still arise. VPNs aren’t perfect. Often achieving a high level of security will rely upon configuring your VPN properly. There have also been circumstances where DNS and IP leaks occur, exposing your once secured data. Your VPN connection can drop. If your VPN connection drops you lose any existing anonymity. Although some VPNs employ a kill switch feature which will disconnect you from the internet if a drop occurs. When Should I Use a VPN? Most people can benefit from using a VPN, especially if you’re concerned about your online privacy. You can use a VPN whenever you connect to the internet. Since it runs in the background it won’t impede any existing online activities, however, it might impact your internet speeds depending on your connection, and the VPN software you’re using. Basically, if any of the following circumstances sound like you, then consider using a quality VPN: You want to get around content blocks. Some countries censor their internet content. To access this content you’ll need a way to get around country-specific blocks while remaining anonymous online. Beyond a censored internet, you can use a VPN to get around country geo-restrictions on streaming content like Netflix.   You want secure data and network connections. With a VPN behind you, your internet connection will be incredibly secure. Any private data you share over the internet will be encrypted and safe. You want to remain anonymous online. Since you’re using the VPN IP address, your IP and other personal information will be fully anonymous.You’re using unsecured wi-fi networks. Accessing public wi-fi networks can put your information at risk. If you regularly access wifi from outside of your home, a VPN will keep your information safe. VPS vs. VPN VPS hosting is a service that allows you to host your website on a virtual server environment, while a VPN is a user-oriented tool that lets you browse the web safely and securely. Probably the only thing that a VPS and VPN have in common (beyond a closely-related acronym) is the virtualization aspect of each of the services. They both serve completely different needs, although as a user you can rely upon both services. For example, if you have a large and high-traffic website you can use VPS hosting to host your site. Then, you can use VPN software while you’re accessing the internet to manage your site, to protect any data you’re sending over the internet. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how VPS hosting and VPNs work, along with the unique purposes they serve. Whether you want to learn how to build a website or register a domain name, our HostGator experts can help you with all your web hosting questions. Contact us today to learn how to build your dream website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Application Web Hosting 101

The post Application Web Hosting 101 appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’re still working out the details for your website and you’re facing two related decisions: what application will you use to build your website, and what type of web hosting will you choose? While it’s possible to build your website without using one of the popular applications available, using an application such as a content management system (CMS) is an extremely popular choice for good reason. They make website creation and maintenance easier and can help you implement more of the elements and features you want on your website. What Is Application Web Hosting? To understand application web hosting, you should start by understanding what web hosting is. Web Hosting Every website you encounter online is made up of a number of different files and elements arranged in just such a way to create your website experience. While we tend to think of the things we encounter online as existing somewhere outside of physical space (we even call it “cyberspace”), all of the different parts that go into making up each website do take up space. And it all has to be stored in a physical web server that’s powerful enough to hold the many files that make up the website, and to deliver them all up to every visitor that comes to the site. That requires a lot of space and bandwidth on a platform, which makes web hosting something that few website owners can handle on their own. Instead, the vast majority of websites are hosted by companies that provide web hosting on a subscription model. These companies maintain the buildings required to house thousands of physical web servers. They do regular maintenance on the servers, provide the climate controlled environment required to keep them in good working condition, and put protections into place to keep them from being hurt by bad weather or accessed by malicious hackers. In exchange for paying a set amount of money each month or year, you can rent out a space on one of these servers (or a whole server with dedicated server hosting, if you need it). It’s a necessary service all websites need in order to be accessible online. Application Hosting Packages The short version: application hosting is the term used to describe web hosting plans that specialize in providing hosting services for websites built on a particular application. Many websites are now built and maintained using popular applications. This includes popular CMSs such as WordPress or applications specifically designed for building forums like phpBB. While many types of web hosting services will work fine for websites built with a particular application, application web hosting plans provide specific features and benefits related to the application you built your website with. They can make it easier to install the application software when you’re getting started, and provide special compatibility that ensures your web hosting account and application software play nice together. How Does Application Hosting Compare to Other Web Hosting? The main difference is that you never have to worry about compatibility issues between your application and your web hosting service. Application web hosting plans often include easy one-click installation of your application, so you can get the two services working together on a single platform without any real effort or difficulty. In addition, an application hosting plan may include features that allow you to more easily access or use the application’s features within your web hosting account, to make the experience of working on your website more seamless and efficient. In short, while other web hosting services may work just fine for your website, finding an application web hosting plan that supports the application you use can make your life a little easier. What to Look for In an Application Web Hosting Plan If you’ve decided to seek out an application web hosting plan for your new website, there are a few main features you should look out for: Compatibility with your preferred application This is the whole point of getting an application-specific web hosting plan to begin with. Make sure the application hosting option you consider works specifically with the CMS, forum, or wiki application you’ll be using for your website. Application hosting isn’t one-size-fits-all, so find the option that will fit your particular needs. Easy setup A web hosting plan that offers one-click set up for the application you use will vastly simplify the set-up process. But also consider how intuitive the web hosting company’s account management and cPanel tools are. And look into what kind of resources they offer to help you get started using the web hosting service. Your web hosting account will be where you complete important tasks like domain name management, setting up redirects, and managing your web hosting billing. You want to make sure it’s all easy to learn and use.   99% uptime One of the main jobs a web hosting company has is keeping your website up and available on the web. Realistically, web hosting servers do occasionally have to go offline for maintenance. And sometimes they go offline for other reasons, such as issues caused by improper maintenance, repair needs, hacker attacks, weather-related disruptions (the server warehouse floods, for example), or hardware glitches. One of the main differentiating factors between different web hosting providers is how much of the time their service is affected by these kinds of issues. If you choose an unreliable application hosting provider, your website could end up offline frequently while they deal with various issues. Ideally, you want to find an application hosting provider that promises at least 99% uptime and backs that up with a guarantee. Some of the most reputable web host providers go even further, such as HostGator’s 99.9% uptime guarantee. If you want people to be able to access your website every time they visit, make uptime a priority in your decision. 24/7 customer service Working with websites, no matter the application you use, will present challenges and issues on occasion. When that happens, you want to be able to identify the issue and fix it fast. If your application hosting company doesn’t offer customer service at all hours, you could be stuck waiting for hours to fix a serious issue with your website, delivering your visitors a disappointing experience all the while. Look for an application web hosting company that promises 24/7 customer support. And check that they provide your preferred option for communication when issues arise, whether that’s live chat, email, or phone. Security features Website hacks and data breaches are nearly everyday news lately. And the most popular website application are often targets of hacks because of their popularity. Website owners should always be on the offensive when it comes to security. While there are a number of steps you can take to keep your website secure, one of the first and most important is choosing a respected web hosting provider. A web hosting company that invests in the infrastructure to keep their web servers protected and sets up firewalls to keep hackers out is the first line of defense you have. Many application hosting packages will also offer additional features or add-ons such as an SSL certificate or security software that makes your website’s protection even stronger. Security should be a priority for every website owner today. If your website will be collecting any personal visitor information, such as names and emails, it’s even more important. And if you’ll be running an eCommerce store that collects customer financial information, it’s indispensable.  Do your due diligence when choosing your application hosting plan to make sure security is well covered. The 6 Main Types of Application Hosting As we mentioned previously, you don’t want a general application hosting plan. You want hosting that’s specific to the type of application you’ll be using. These are the six most common types of application web hosting to consider. 1. WordPress Hosting WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, with over half of the market share. That makes WordPress hosting the most common type of application hosting website owners are likely to consider. Websites powered by WordPress are easy to build, update, and maintain, even for people that don’t know to code. You can make changes to the website through the WordPress interface rather than having to update the page code directly. And with a library of over 50,000 WordPress plugins and thousands of themes, you can easily add a lot of features and functionality to a WordPress site. There are many reasons to choose WordPress hosting for your website and it is a smart choice that makes maintaining your website that much easier. 2. Joomla Hosting Joomla is another popular CMS option that falls behind WordPress in the number of users, but still dominates a certain segment of the market. Joomla is a bit harder to use than WordPress, but it’s a little more powerful and customizable, which makes it a popular choice for website owners and designers who want a step up in functionality. Joomla also has a comprehensive library of themes, extensions, and educational resources to learn how best to use the website. For anyone that chooses Joomla as the best option to build a website with, Joomla hosting is an obvious choice. 3. Drupal Hosting Drupal is the third most popular CMS is in the world. While it lags behind WordPress and Joomla in number of users, it has a reputation for being more sophisticated and powerful than the other two. The tradeoff is that it’s harder for any beginners or amateurs to use, meaning it’s mostly used for websites that have professional developers behind them. If that describes your website and you choose to go with Drupal, you can keep the web hosting part of running your website simpler by choosing a Drupal hosting plan. 4. Magento Hosting Anyone building an eCommerce website will need an eCommerce app that enables shopping cart and checkout functionality on the website. The most popular option for that is Magento, an open source shopping cart option that’s currently used by over 240,000 websites. Magento’s eCommerce features are both customizable and easy for even beginners to set up and work with. Magento is the obvious choice for anyone building an eCommerce website, and by choosing compatible Magento hosting you can ensure that your web hosting service works well with your eCommerce software. 5. Wiki Hosting While slightly less popular than some of the other most common types of websites, Wikis are an important part of the web. They deliver valuable information on a variety of topics in a way that’s easy to browse, search, and contribute to. The most popular Wiki apps, such as MediaWiki, TikiWiki, PmWiki, and WikkaWiki all help users create functioning Wiki websites. If you’re specifically building a Wiki, then you’ll want to use one of the Wiki apps to get your website up and running. And for that, investing in Wiki hosting is a solid choice. 6. phpBB Hosting User forums are another important part of the web, enabling users from all over the world with common interests to find and communicate with each other. For websites that are either forum-based or plan to include a forum, phpBB is the primary application available for building online communities. phpBB is an open-source bulletin board software that makes it easy to build a space for users to communicate with each other online. If you choose to build an online community with phpBB, consider phpBB hosting to provide easy accessibility to your users.   Choose the Right Application Hosting Provider You have a number of choices when it comes to finding the right web hosting plan for your website. If you’re using one of the applications described here, you’ll benefit from finding a provider that specializes in the application you use. HostGator is one of the most respected application hosting providers in the industry. We offer hosting plans for all the most popular applications, and have a variety of plan options at different price points that are compatible with each. We provide a 99.9% uptime money-back guarantee, and 24/7 customer support. We can offer both compatibility and reliability for your website. Sign up today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Web Design Trends 2019

The post Web Design Trends 2019 appeared first on HostGator Blog. Looking at the latest web design trends will allow us to peer into the future of where the web is headed. This doesn’t mean you need to fully switch up your current design to adhere to the latest trends, but they’re good to keep an eye on nonetheless. If your website has been in need of a makeover, then maybe this will be the year you finally switch things up. If you want to learn how to create a beautiful website that follows the latest web design trends, HostGator can help. If anything this year bodes well for web experimentation. It seems that people are bored with the same old same old and want a new and exciting take on classic design. This doesn’t mean making sites so experimental that they’re hard to use, but instead more interesting, engaging, and unique. Learn about the biggest web design trends in 2019 and what they mean for the future of your website. Then, we’ll include a website builder comparison to help you decide on the best option for you and your needs. find the best website builder to bring these to life on your website. 1. A Focus on User Experience Offering your visitors a solid user experience should be at the top of your list. Today’s web users demand an enjoyable user experience above all else. If your website is confusing and hard to use you’re not only going to be annoying your visitors, but you’re going to cost your business a lot of money. This is doubly true if you’re directly selling anything through your website. The act of finding a product, adding it to the cart, and completing the purchase should be entirely seamless. In the past it seemed like web design trends and most websites would neglect the journey of the user and instead placed a focus on having a trendy design. No matter how “cool” your website looks, there’s really no point unless it’s converting your visitors and they’re actually enjoying their experience. As competition online continues to grow more fierce, expect those websites that place a focus on user experience first to have long and successful futures. 2. Clean and Clear Design Having plenty of whitespace has been an important web design trend for years. However, recently it’s grown in its importance and application. The biggest reason whitespace continues to be a dominating trend is because it makes your website much easier to use. By incorporating a lot of whitespace into your design you’re not bombarding your visitors with too much information. It also gives you the room to focus on important areas of your site. Or, direct your visitor’s attention to areas that are the most beneficial to them. Having plenty of whitespace is a central tenet of minimalist design. Minimalism will continue to be a dominating trend well into the future. By having a minimalist design you make it easier for your users to find what they’re looking for. As you’ll soon learn below other trends like increased use of video and scrolling-based websites both enhance this minimalism trend. 3. A Large Focus on Mobile Today more people access the internet from their mobile devices than they do from a laptop or standard computers. This means that your design must offer a stellar mobile experience. Offer a poor mobile experience or a site that doesn’t function properly on a mobile device, and you’re going to lose a lot of your users. If you haven’t gone responsive yet, here’s another thing to consider. Most users will start their search journey on their mobile devices. Plus, sites that aren’t mobile-friendly won’t rank as well in the search engines. So, not only will your site receive less traffic from the search engines, but any traffic that you will receive will have a difficult time actually using your site. Making your website mobile-friendly isn’t so much a “trend” as it is an essential web design best practice. The most effective way to embrace mobile devices is to upgrade your site to a responsive web design. With a responsive web layout your site will automatically adjust to the screen size it’s being viewed upon. 4. Embedded and Integrated Video Video is exploding in popularity online. All signs suggest that video is the future. Even social media networks like Facebook and Instagram are doubling down on video content. Plus, YouTube is already the second largest search engine in the world. If you haven’t embraced video, it’s not too late. In fact, one of the emerging web design trends is embedding video into your website. Video is an incredibly engaging medium. How many times have you continued to watch a video, just because it started playing on the site you’re on? And we’re not talking about annoying video pop-ups either that you can’t seem to turn off, no matter how hard you try. Instead, we’re talking about creating intentionally engaging videos that act as an actual part of the design of your site. Instead of standing out they play an integral role in keeping users on your site and informing them about your products and services. These don’t have to be incredibly long videos either. Think of them as moving design elements whose goal is to intrigue and capture the attention of your visitors. Adding videos to your website and content can also have the added effect of improving your site’s search engine rankings. Google has user engagement metrics which act as indicators of a quality site. Sites where users spend more time will be given a higher ranking, as these metrics suggests a site is very high quality. 5. Broken Grid Layouts You might already be familiar with grid layouts. A grid is essentially a hidden series of horizontal and vertical lines that your website’s elements will adhere to. You can see the classic grid at work on most existing websites. You have the logo in the upper left-hand corner, and the navigation menu extending across the top of the screen, along with any other elements arranged below it in an orderly manner. But, with a broken grid layout, you’ll see elements that make the grid seem broken. There will be overlap of design elements, along with text and photos that don’t adhere to the traditional grid. Usually, this is done to give emphasis to certain elements of your website. However, to be effective with a broken grid layout it needs to be done intentionally. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a website that simply looks confusing or jumbled. The worst is a website that ever-so-slightly breaks the grid. Upon first glance, it might not look like something is wrong, but you and your visitors will get the feeling that there’s something off about the website. Beyond the broken grid there’s also been an increase in the use of fluid and more comfort inducing shapes. With more natural and free form shapes you can induce a different feeling in your users when they land on your site. Instead of the purely rigid and geometric designs of days past, those pushing the edge of web design are introducing more natural shapes. 6. Nostalgic Design Elements The 80s and 90s are back in full force, and we’re not just talking about shows like Stranger Things and books like Ready Player One. A previous web design trend that’s been in place for years has put an emphasis on flat and modern design, creating minimalist websites that look like they were born in the future. But, just like fashion moves in a circular fashion, so do our web design trends. This doesn’t mean you should create a 90’s site that looks like the first rendition of a Geocities page. Instead, you should take design cues from previous generations as a whole. This means embracing color schemes and taking typography cues from generation’s past. By embracing the past you can create a new and wholly unique design. Since the web didn’t really exist back then in the state it does now, you can create designs that haven’t been seen on the web before. If this web design trend speaks to you, consider implementing color schemes from times past. Or keep an eye out for a cool old-school font you can use for your headers or your logo. 7. Sites that Encourage Scrolling If you’ve had your website online for any time at all, then you’re probably aware of the term “above the fold”. This means that all of your important graphic design and branding elements should be above the fold of your site, so it’s the first thing your website visitors will see without having to scroll. It seems that web users of the past used to hate scrolling down the page with their mouse, trackpad, or thumb. But, today’s web users are much different. Most website visitors don’t mind scrolling in the slightest. This trend could be rising due to apps like Instagram, which actively encourage scrolling down the app. Combine this with the preference to access the web via mobile devices, and you’ve got a scrolling match made in heaven. As a result, this gives you more real estate to work with when designing the style and layout of your website. Instead of trying to cram everything into the space above the fold, you can utilize your entire screen. This allows you to create more logical and enticing pages that hook your visitor’s attention as they scroll further down your screen. In accordance with making sites more scrollable, you’ll also want to think about implementing thumb-friendly navigation. When people are using their mobile phones to navigate a website they take many different actions and interact with the website in a different manner. One of the easiest ways to ensure your site is in alignment with this growing trend is to include a hamburger navigation menu. This allows users to more easily select the page they want to visit. 8. Intentional Data Collection Most websites will collect some form of data. Today, with the recently introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the collection and storage of data have become even more important. This has led website owners to evaluate how they go about collecting data and being more intentional with the kind of data they’re collecting. For example, if you have an intake form on your website do you really need their location data or even their phone number? Or, maybe you currently integrate with Facebook as a login alternative. Although this saves you time, it might not lead to the best impression for your company. No matter if it’s a contact form, email signup form, or even having tracking cookies on your site, you’ll need to be very transparent about the data you’re collecting, why you’re collecting it, and what you’re doing with it. When thinking about any forms you have on your site think about what’s the minimum amount of necessary information you can collect. Sites that place an importance on user privacy will not only ensure their sites stay compliant with the latest privacy guidelines, but will also be the sites that create a strong and trusting visitor relationship. What These Trends Mean for Your Website By keeping up with the latest web design trends you can help predict where the online world is going. If your website is a crucial part of your business, then it’s important to stay up to date with what’s currently going on online. Today’s web users are savvier than ever, and spend more time online than ever before, with the advent of smartphones and the advancement of the mobile web. Spend some time analyzing the trends above to see how you can apply any of them to your website, or where you can enhance your existing design. The quickest way to lose your visitors’ trust is to have a website that looks old and out of date. That doesn’t mean you need to adopt every single trend above, but instead see how you can bring your website into the future and in tune with the kind of website your users expect to see. Hopefully, you have a better idea of the trends you’ll start to see across the web this year. Whether you’re going to undergo a redesign or not, these trends are important to think about now and into the future. Ready to put these trends in web design into action? Get started with Gator Website Builder. It includes over a hundred mobile-friendly design styles and templates that were built with today and tomorrow’s graphic design trends in mind. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Use a Domain Name Checker to Check Domain Availability

The post How to Use a Domain Name Checker to Check Domain Availability appeared first on HostGator Blog. Finding the perfect domain name for your new website can be a little tricky. Not only do you need a domain that perfectly represents your website, but you need to ensure it’s short, catchy, memorable, and actually available. Luckily, there’s a number of tools that’ll help you not only uncover the perfect domain name, but also ensure it’s available. Below you’ll learn how to find the right domain name for your website, and how to use a domain name checker to help speed up the process of locking down your dream domain. Finding the Right Domain Name There’s a lot that goes into a domain name. Your domain needs to succinctly sum up what your site is about while being catchy and easy to remember. Your domain will define your brand and be the first thing that visitors see. As a result, your domain will create either a good or bad impression of your website. Here are some tips for finding the best possible domain name for your new website: 1. Connect Your Brand to Your Domain Name You want your domain name to be a differentiator. Having a unique domain name will always be better than a generic domain that sounds all-too-similar to competing sites. When you’re launching a brand, chances are you’re doing something different than the competition. Make sure that your domain name reflects this. For example, think of sites like Google, DropBox, Zillow, Facebook. All of these sites have unique and memorable names. Whether you’re creating new words from scratch or combining two unrelated words, one thing is for sure: they stick in your mind. 2. Keep the Character Count Low As a general rule, the shorter the domain name, the better. It might be very difficult to find a shorter domain name as most of these were purchased a long time ago. But, you still might be able to find a unique word or combination of words that are still available. When in doubt, go for something memorable over something long. Think about when you’re telling your friend about a website. For example, they’re more likely to remember catgram.com over picturesthatiloveaboutcats.com. 3. Make Your Domain Easy to Pronounce Your domain name needs to be easy to remember, and part of that is making it easy to pronounce. When someone thinks about your domain name, they shouldn’t have to look it up in a dictionary to get the spelling right. You want to make it easy for other people to pass on your domain name, whether that’s written or spoken. 4. Avoid Numbers, Hyphens, and Other Characters A memorable site name can go a long way towards helping your site gain traction. One quick way to make things more difficult is by adding hyphens or numbers to your domain name. Hyphens not only make it more difficult to pass on your domain, but it’ll probably lead to a lot of misspellings and people not being able to find your site. For example, what’s easier to remember and type into your browser? C-N-N.com or CNN.com. Or how about Face-book.com, or Facebook.com? The same goes for numbers. Adding numbers to your domain can come across as spammy and much more difficult to pass on. What’s a Domain Name Checker? Domain name checkers are tools that help you to determine if a domain name is still available. Often, these tools can also suggest other related domain names, along with presenting other domain name extensions that might be available under your chosen domain name. There are also other related domain finder tools that are more focused on helping you generate unique domain names, while at the same time searching for availability. Domain Name Checker Overview There are a myriad of different domain name checkers you can use to see if a given domain is available for purchase. Most domain name registrars will have these tools built into their domain search tools. After all, it’ll be impossible to buy a domain if it isn’t actually available. However, you might also come across domains that have been previously purchased or are currently owned by another party. Still, you can purchase these domains, but expect to pay a great deal more than a fresh domain. Here’s a breakdown of a few different domain name checkers you can use: 1. HostGator Domains HostGator Domains is not only a domain name registrar, but it’ll tell you which domains are available, and even offer suggestions for similar domains. With this domain name checker you can quickly see if your domain of choice is available and get it registered right away. Plus, you can pick up quality web hosting at the same time and start building your new site right away. 2. LeanDomainSearch LeanDomainSearch is another pretty helpful domain lookup tool. All you have to do is enter a keyword that you want to build your domain around, and this tool will do the rest. If you’re stumped for ideas then this tool will help you get started. For example, here’s a sample search for the word ‘house’. From that simple word, we’ve got over 400 different domains to look at and draw inspiration from. 3. DomainHole DomainHole is a search tool that allows you to find a very specific type of domain. Whether you’re looking for a new domain or an aged domain for SEO or other purposes, this tool is worth exploring. You’ll be able to search for expired, expiring, or dropped domains, plus with the extensive search filters you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for. 4. Knowem Knowem should be used in conjunction with another domain checker tool, but it’s still just as valuable. If you’re going to be creating social media profiles for your new website, then this tool will check to see what social media profiles are available. Even if you aren’t going to be using social media right away, it can be helpful to still grab any existing social media handles for future use. What to Do if a Domain Isn’t Available? Let’s say you’ve found the perfect domain name, but when you run it through a domain name checker, it comes up as unavailable. This doesn’t mean that your search should end there. In some cases, you might be able to place a bid on the domain or even pick up a different domain name extension. Here are these two options in a little more depth: 1. Placing a Domain Name Bid Sometimes the domain you want will already be owned by someone else. If the domain isn’t being used for an existing website or application, then you can usually get in touch with the owner and place a bid on the domain. For example, here’s the website of a domain name that someone else owns. You have the option to reach out and purchase the domain. Keep in mind that the owner might not always respond, or they might want more than you’re willing to spend. Generally, when you place a bid you’ll be spending a couple of hundred bucks at the very minimum. Sometimes these domains will run up into multiple thousands of dollars. For example, take a look at some of these domains offered on Sedo. Overall, the price of domains will go up the simpler they are. You’d be hard pressed to find a single word domain of a dictionary word for less than a few grand. If you’re placing a bid on a domain name, expect a little negotiation back and forth until you land on the selling price. 2. Choosing a Different Domain Name Extension The most common domain name extensions are .com, .org, and .net. But, that doesn’t mean your search should end, just because these extensions aren’t available. In some cases, a different domain extension might even work better, but overall it depends on the type of site you’re running. When considering a different domain name extension, keep the following questions in mind: Does the extension I want belong to an existing website? If I choose another extension will it work with my brand?Can I get a different extension that doesn’t feel like spam?Is the new extension memorable? Overall, if the domain is taken by a website that’s currently live on the internet, then you’ll want to choose a new domain name. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of copyright infringement and run into all kinds of legal issues. This headache isn’t worth it, and your time is better spent coming up with a new domain. However, if your first choice domain name extension is taken, but isn’t being used for a website you could get away with using another extension. For example, I really wanted a domain name, but the .com was already taken but wasn’t being used for anything at all, so I went with the .net version. This allows you to start building your site if you’re absolutely attached to a given domain name, while in time you can acquire any other extensions with the profits from your new site. How to Register a Domain Name Once you’ve found the perfect domain name that’s actually available, then it’s time for the easy part. Registering your domain. If you were using the HostGator Domains tool to search for the availability of a domain, then you’re already halfway there. Just, add your domain to your cart, and complete the checkout steps. Here’s a brief walkthrough just in case: 1. Navigate to HostGator Domains Here you can enter your domain name that you want to purchase. You can enter your domain with or without your desired extension. 2. Input Your Domain First, input your domain name and click ‘Search’. If the domain name is available, then you’ll get the message ‘Congratulations, Your Domain is Available!” This will automatically add your domain to your cart, and all you have to do is click ‘Continue to Cart’ and complete your purchase. 3. Select Your Terms When you register a domain name you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from. For example, you can add things like domain privacy. You’ll also select the term for which you want to register your domain. Overall, the cheapest option will always be to register your domain for the longest term offered. You’ll be spending more up front, but the monthly rate will typically be much lower than paying a yearly fee and having to renew every single year. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about accidentally letting your domain lapse. Get Started with Domain Name Checkers Hopefully, you have a better idea of what to look for in new domain name for your site, plus how to use a domain name checker to actually see if your dream domain is available. Getting a domain name isn’t a process you’ll want to rush. Spend some time with the domain name checkers above until you find a great domain that speaks to the core of what your site’s about, while remaining memorable and catchy. Then, when you’re ready, you can register your domain right here at HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Transfer a Domain

The post How to Transfer a Domain appeared first on HostGator Blog. There are a multitude of reasons you’ll want to transfer your domain. Maybe you’ve sold a domain, or bought one for a gift? Or, you could be unsatisfied with your current registrar and are looking to migrate? Whether you’re transferring ownership of your domain or migrating to a new registrar, there are certain steps you’ll need to follow. Although it might seem fairly technical, this process exists for a reason—to help ensure that your domain remains in the right hands. Below we look at the things to look for in a new domain name registrar, as well as the processes you need to follow to transfer a domain name to a new registrar, or another party entirely. Why Transfer a Domain? As you learned in the introduction, there are plenty of reasons you might want to transfer a domain name. The most common is because you’re frustrated with your current registrar. Maybe the yearly renewal rate is too expensive? Or, you’re looking for a registrar with more features? For example, by using a domain name registrar like HostGator you can group your domain name and hosting all under one roof. This simplifies the technical steps of setting up your website, as well as the number of invoices you’ll have to remember to renew. There’s nothing worse than letting an important domain lapse because you forget to check in and missed the renewal date. Or, you could have sold a domain, or bought a domain for a friend. In this scenario, you’ll be switching the ownership of the domain along with transferring the domain to their registrar of choice. Whatever your reason we’ll walk you through both processes in the final section below. If you’re not in the market for a new registrar yourself, then feel free to skip to the final section of this post. What to Look for in a New Domain Registrar If you’re transferring your domain because you’re dissatisfied with your current domain name registrar, then you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to make the same mistake twice. Which means you’ll want to make sure your new registrar is high-quality and won’t lead to the same headaches you’re currently experiencing. Here are a few key things to look for as you search for the perfect domain name registrar: 1. Total Feature Set Every registrar will have different features. Some registrars will only offer domain name purchase and management, while others will provide an entire suite of different services. Common features include domain name management, renewal, transfer, and domain privacy protection via WHOIS. However, other registrars will also offer bundled website hosting, website builders, email management and a lot more. If you want your hosting and domain name management all under one roof, then you’ll need a registrar that also offers hosting. Plus, you’ll need to make sure that the host is also very high quality. Make a list of what non-negotiable features you need in a registrar and compare this with the feature set of the registrar you want to switch to. 2. User Friendliness There’s no point in transferring registrars if it’s going to be very difficult to use. You’ll want it to be very easy to manage your domain names, purchase a new domain name, switch over the nameservers to your host, add privacy protection, and a lot more. The last thing you want is to have to spend hours setting up your domain names, just because the platform isn’t easy to use. For this reason, it can be helpful to look for a domain registrar that’s oriented towards beginners, as generally it’ll be much easier to navigate and will use less confusing terminology. Also, look out for tutorials, blog posts, and other helpful information that’ll help save you time and set up your domains the right way. 3. Customer Support You might not need to use customer support all the time, but when you do, you’ll want them to be responsive and helpful. When you’re having issues with your domain name, or any of the associated services, you’ll want a support team that can help you out as fast as possible. For example, if your domain is currently offline for some reason, you’ll want support to be able to quickly resolve this issue. It can be helpful to get in touch with customer support before you decide to move registrars. This will help you get a feel for the quality and responsiveness of the support team before you migrate. Also, make sure they provide the support channels that you prefer to use, whether that’s live chat or phone. At HostGator, we offer 24/7 Live Chat and phone support every day of the year. 4. Domain Protection When using a registrar you’ll want to make sure that your domains are secure and there are features in place to help protect your purchase. For example, is WHOIS privacy protection included free of charge? Will you be notified before your domain name expires? Are there additional privacy and protection services you can purchase? Beyond protecting your purchase and ensuring that your domain will always remain in your possession (as long as you want it), you’ll want to make sure there are features that allow for the safe transfer of your domain name. Here are a few domain transfer features to look for: Authorization codes. These codes help to ensure that whoever is transferring your domain has permission to do so. Transfer locks. These help to ensure that your domain name can never be transferred to another party without your permission. Transfer confirmation emails. These emails will require authentication to make sure that you’re transferring the domain to the right party. 5. Overall Price Finally, you’ll want to consider the price of the new registrar. Price is important, but it shouldn’t be the main factor in deciding to pick a new registrar. Choosing based upon price alone can leave you with a low-quality registrar that’ll end up being detrimental to your website as a whole. When examining the price of a new registrar make sure you consider any additional fees. Some registrars will include services for free that others will charge an add-on fee for. Some registrars will have very low introductory rates but jump up tremendously when it’s time to renew. Find a domain registrar within your budget, but don’t let price be the sole determining factor in your selection. How to Transfer a Domain The general process for transferring a domain will be similar no matter what registrar you’re using. Below we’ll show you how to transfer a domain, whether you’re migrating to a new registrar, or you’re moving your domain to another party. 1. Transfer a Domain to Another Registrar Moving your domain to a new registrar isn’t difficult, but there’s a series of steps you’ll have to complete. These steps exist in order to protect the domain that you own. But, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then here’s how you can transfer your domain to a new registrar. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to assume you’re moving your domain over to HostGator. Before we dive in there’s an important point to cover. You can only transfer a domain if it’s been in your possession for 60 days. If you’ve owned your domain for more than 60 days, then you’re good to go. If not, then bookmark this post and come back in 60 days. 1. Prepare for the Transfer The first thing you’ll need to do is disable the existing protection protocols and prepare your domain name for a transfer. If you want a smooth transfer process, then make sure you do the following: Update your nameservers to reflect your new host (if you’re also migrating your hosting )Disable your WHOIS privacy protection, if it’s currently enabledMake sure that your domain contact information is up to dateUnlock your domain name at your current registrarObtain your EPP authorization code, you might have to reach out to your current registrar to obtain this Now, your domain is successfully prepared and ready for transfer. 2. Start the Domain Transfer Initiating the transfer process with HostGator is easy. Head over to the HostGator Transfer page and enter the domain name you want to transfer. This tool will then run through the pre-transfer checklist to make sure that you’ve satisfied all of the requirements. If there are any issues with the domain you want to transfer then these will be displayed in the pop-up box. If everything is good to go, then you’ll be able to complete the transfer. To finalize the transfer you’ll need to pay for a yearly registration at your new registrar. Since you’re using HostGator, just click the ‘Continue to Checkout’ button. Here you’ll enter your billing information and complete your purchase. Once you’ve submitted payment the transfer process will begin. 3. Verify the Domain Transfer To complete the domain transfer you’ll need to go through the email verification process to ensure you’re transferring the domain to the right person. Navigate to the email inbox for the email address that’s associated with the current domain. You should see a verification email. Here you’ll need to enter your EPP key or your authorization code. Once this has been verified the transfer process will be done. Now you just have to wait for the transfer process to finish. 2. Transfer a Domain to Another Party If you’re currently using HostGator for your domains and you want to transfer your domain to another third party, then following the steps below: 1. Unlock Your Domain and Prepare for Transfer In order to transfer your domain, you’ll need to prepare your domain for transfer. To do this navigate to your control panel and head over to the ‘Domains’ tab. Then, select the domain name you want to transfer and unlock the domain. Then, turn off privacy protection, if you have it enabled. If the person you’re transferring the domain to has another host enabled, then you’ll need to point the nameservers to the new host. But, if not, then you can leave the nameservers alone. Finally, you’ll need to obtain the EPP/Authorization Code from the ‘Transfer EPP’ tab. With all of this, you’re now ready to initiate the transfer. 2. Confirm the Third-Party Transfer The transfer will need to be initiated by the third party who’s accepting the domain name. This will be done from their own account on their registrar of choice. Once the transfer has been initiated you’ll need to log back into your Domain Manager and accept the transfer. To finalize the transfer you should receive a confirmation email that deals with identity confirmation and your EPP codes. Domain Transfer FAQ Hopefully, the above information covered the process in depth, but you still might have a few questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions related to a domain transfer. How long will the domain transfer process take? In total, the transfer should be completed in 5-7 days. This is the standard allotment, but usually, the domain will be switched over prior to that. But, if you have any issues, then it might take a bit longer to resolve everything. How long does it take to initiate a domain transfer? Preparing the domain and initiating the transfer shouldn’t take long at all. At most, it should take an hour or two. You should set aside some time to do the transfer without any interference. If you wait too long the security codes might expire, so you’ll want to everything at the same time. Can domain information be altered during a transfer? No. That’s why you’ll need to make sure all of the contact information, especially the contact email, is correct before you initiate the transfer. You can only change the domain contact information once the transfer is complete. If you need to change any domain information while the transfer is taking place you’ll need to get in touch with customer support. Ready to Transfer Your Domain? Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the domain transfer process and everything it takes to properly migrate a domain name. If you’re switching to a new domain registrar, then the information above should help point you in the right direction. Transfer your domain to HostGator today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

20 Top Tools for Responsive Web Design

The post 20 Top Tools for Responsive Web Design appeared first on HostGator Blog. The main trend in web design that’s dominated the conversation over the past few years is responsive web design. As mobile use continues to grow around the world—recent estimates put the number of mobile devices in use at over five billion—the need for mobile-friendly websites is obvious. Responsive web design is the most popular solution to that need.   Why You Should Use Responsive Web Design Responsive web design is an approach to web design that ensures a website looks good on all devices. Responsive websites have the same information and page elements no matter what device you view them on, but the way the pages are organized changes according to the smaller screen size on smartphones and tablets.   As the name suggests, the website is designed to respond to the size of the screen each time it loads by changing the way the display appears to match the screen layout and provide an intuitive experience for every visitor. Responsive web design has become the go-to option for web designers who care about providing a good and consistent experience on all types of devices. Web designers do also have the option of building two separate websites: a mobile one that loads on smaller devices, and a desktop one that loads on computers. But with the growing number of device types and screen sizes of smartphones and tablets, that option poses the risk of still only working well in a fraction of cases. And if you’re providing different content or information to different visitors, you risk providing an inferior experience to some of your visitors. Why keep content you know is valuable for your desktop visitors inaccessible to your mobile ones? Responsive web design is good for your visitors, good for search engine optimization (SEO), and easier on you, since you only have to build and maintain one website. But if you’re new to web design, figuring out how to create a responsive website can seem overwhelming. Luckily, there are a number of tools to help with an adaptive design that make things easier. 20 Tools for Responsive Web Design The tools available for responsive web design fall into three main categories. For beginners wanting a simple option for building a responsive layout on their website, you have tools that will help you find and use responsive templates. For more experienced designers, there are a number of tools that aid in the responsive design process. Finally, for anyone that’s built a responsive website, there are responsive testing tools to help you make sure your finished website works well on all device types. Tools For Responsive Web Design Templates If you’re building a website and don’t know the first thing about web design or coding, but you know it’s important to have a responsive website, then you may be worrying about where to even start. Fortunately, as the importance of responsive web design has become increasingly clear over the years, a number of designers and web building tools have seen the need to develop responsive web design examples that newbie website owners can use to easily build a responsive website. Here are a few tools you can use to find responsive templates that will make creating a responsive website simple, even for those with limited web design skills. 1. Gator Website Builder Gator Website Builder has over 100 responsive website templates to choose from for an adaptive design. Anyone that subscribes to a Gator plan has access to the library of templates, as well as a intuitive website builder that makes it easy to customize the template you choose to create a unique, fully responsive website. 2. Simbla Simbla offers 100 simple responsive website templates customers can choose from to jumpstart the web design process. For anyone just looking to build a basic website with a few pages, their templates are straightforward and responsive. 3. Colorlib Colorlib is a resource that collects and highlights themes—both free and premium—that anyone building a website on WordPress can use. Some of the site’s blog posts specifically collect responsive themes and templates. While working with their themes will require a little more skill than using a website builder, they can provide a good starting point for building your website and can save you some money if you’re willing to commit the time to learning basic design skills. 4. ThemeForest ThemeForest, part of Envato, offers nearly 45,000 themes and templates for people building a website with WordPress, including over 5,000 that are responsive. Their themes start at around $5, but can cost over $100 for some options. Many of the themes include reviews and ratings from past customers, so you can get some advance insights into how well they work. 5. Templated Templated supplies nearly 900 responsive HTML templates that are freely available under the Creative Commons. Anyone can browse their collection and download and use any template that feels like a good fit for your needs. If you’re looking for a free option to get started with, this is a good place to look first. Tools For Doing Responsive Web Design Responsive templates are the best option for anyone with limited skills hoping to get a website up on their own. For designers with the skills to build a website from scratch, there are a number of tools for responsive web design that make doing the job well easier. 6. Bootstrap Bootstrap is a free, open source tool for building mobile-first responsive websites. Bootstrap provides a toolkit of the various elements you need to build a responsive website and lets you pick and choose the elements you want to include on your page to make prototyping intuitive. 7. Wirefy Wirefy is a free tool for easily creating responsive wireframes. The tool makes it easy to plan your design around your content and make sure it looks good across device types. It requires a working knowledge of HTML and CSS, but makes the work of building a responsive site easier. 8. FitVids If your website includes video, FitVids is a free, useful tool for ensuring your videos load at the right width on different devices. It’s a simple plugin that allows for fluid video embeds. Whatever screen size your visitors use, the videos will automatically load to the right width. 9. Adaptive Images What Fitvids does for videos, Adaptive Images does for images. The program detects a visitor’s screen size and automatically delivers the images on your page in the right size for them to look good on the screen and load quickly. 10. FitText FitText does for fonts what FitVids and Adaptive Images do for visual elements. It automatically resizes your headings and display text based on the size of the screen visitors have. FitText is a free and easy-to-use plugin. 11. Webflow Webflow is a tool to help people design and build responsive websites visually—it automatically generates the code for you, so you can stick to the visual side of design. The company offers a free basic plan you can use for designing a responsive site, and paid plans that come with additional features and services.   12. Invision Invision is a tool for enabling collaborative responsive design. It makes it easy to share your work with others on a team. And notably, it makes it easy to access it on various devices as you work, so you can test out how it looks on different screens as you go. Invision is free for one active prototype at a time, and has paid plans for those who need more. 13. Blueberry If you want to include an image slideshow on your website, the Blueberry image slider is designed to be automatically responsive. It’s a free open-source tool that automatically sizes all the images in your slideshow to fit on the screen of the device your visitors are on. All you have to do is load your images. 14. UXPin UXPin is a platform for web design and prototyping that prioritizes user experience. The platform enables quick and easy design and provides a library of pre-built components you can incorporate into your designs. It also makes collaboration with other designers on your team easy. UXPin is a subscription product that starts at $23 a month. 15. Style Tiles For professional designers that work with clients, Style Tiles is a useful tool for creating quick mock-ups of your design ideas for approval, before having to dive into serious design work. You can download free templates created by a designer familiar with the process of working with clients and knowledgeable about the importance of responsive web design.   Responsive Testing Tools One of the challenges inherent in responsive design is that, while your goal is to create a website that looks good on every possible device and in every different browser, you can’t reasonably test out every variation on your own. There are dozens of different screen and resolution sizes out there, and no person or business will have access to every one of them. While it’s worth it to try out your new responsive website on as many devices as you can access, you can go further by using responsive testing tools to see how your website works on additional screen sizes. 16. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test isn’t specifically for testing responsive websites, but Google has been upfront for some time about how important its algorithm considers mobile friendliness in websites in determining rankings. For any business that cares about SEO, Google’s tool lets you go straight to the source to confirm that your website is mobile friendly enough to meet the search engine’s standards. 17. Responsinator Responsinator is a free and handy responsive testing tool where you all you have to do is enter your URL, and you can see how your website looks on a few different device sizes and orientations. It’s a quick way to get a snapshot of how other visitors will see your website. 18. Browserstack While Responsinator lets you test your website on a few different device sizes at once, for businesses that want to really be confident that a responsive website works on every possible device, a more comprehensive solution is called for. Browserstack is a subscription product that automates the process of testing your website over 2,000 device and browser types.   19. Resizer Resizer is a free tool that provides a quick snapshot of how your website looks on the three main screen sizes, but also lets you test out how it looks at different widths on each device type. With a simple click, you can see how people with a variety screen or browser sizes will see the website, so you can get a much broader view of the different ways your responsive site will appear to visitors. 20. CrossBrowserTesting While a lot of how we talk about responsive design focuses on different device types and sizes, the way your website shows up in different browsers is another important consideration for user experience. The CrossBrowserTesting tool automates the process of testing out how your website looks and works in all the main browsers so you can spot potential issues before they affect how your visitors experience the website. Responsive Web Design Made Easy Building a responsive website doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tools for responsive design, you can pull together a website that meets your needs and provides an intuitive experience to all your users, no matter the device they come from. If you’re building your first website and don’t know where to start, the Gator Website Builder makes building a responsive website a fast and easy process. All you have to do is select your responsive template, and use the intuitive drag-and-drop editor to change the template to suit your particular vision. Even beginner website owners can have a working site up and ready within hours. And as an added benefit, Gator comes with HostGator’s powerful web hosting. Web hosting is a requirement for every website, so you can get two things done at once by signing up with one of the most respected web hosting providers in the space. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Much Does a Website Cost?

The post How Much Does a Website Cost? appeared first on HostGator Blog. How much does a website cost? Is there a general range I should expect to pay for a new website? If you’re just getting started online, then you’ve probably turned these questions over in your head. They’re very important questions to answer. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer for either of them. It all depends on the goals of your site, the type of site you’re building, and the method you’re going to take to build out your website. As a general rule of thumb the more hands-on you’re going to be throughout the process the lower the cost will be. So, using a website builder or a CMS will be much cheaper than hiring a professional website designer. Below we’ll examine how much a website costs to build, as well as the factors that will influence the overall cost. Website Cost Considerations The price of your website will depend on a lot of different factors. Both pre-existing factors, as well as the type of site you’re going to build. Here are a few of the main considerations that will influence the overall price. 1. Your Choice of Domain and Hosting Every website needs a domain name and hosting. Your domain name is what people will type into the address bar to access your site. While your hosting is where all of your website’s files will be stored. You can purchase these together or separately. 2. The Platform That Powers Your Site You’re going to have a lot of different options when it comes to building out your site. You can use a website builder, choose a CMS like WordPress, or even hire a professional to build your site for you. With WordPress, you can rely on free themes and plugins to reduce your overall cost, while with a website builder you’ll typically pay a monthly fee. Hiring a web developer will be the most expensive option. We’ll cover this in more detail below. 3. The Type of Website You’re Building The type of website you’re building will greatly influence the overall cost. For example, if you’re building a simple personal blog, then your expenses will be very low. But, if you’re building out a complex eCommerce store, then you should expect higher website build costs. Generally, the more complex and feature-rich your website, the higher the cost will be. But, this cost can be offset by doing most of the design tasks yourself, or using the right website builder software or CMS. Essential Website Expenses: Domains and Hosting Costs The overall cost of building your site will be greatly influenced by factors above, like the type of site you’re building, and what software or platform will form the foundation for your site. But, there are two essential expenses to building a website that you won’t be able to avoid: your domain name and hosting. Here’s how the cost of these two elements breaks down. 1. Domain Name Costs Your domain name is probably one of the first things you’ll purchase. Your domain name is the URL that people will type into their website browser to actually view your site. We won’t get into choosing your domain name here. But here are a few great resources for choosing the perfect domain name: How You Can Choose the Best Domain Name for Your BlogThe 7 Best Domain Name Suggestion ToolsIs My Domain Name Available? Every domain isn’t created equal. Most domains will run you around $9 to $15 per year. However, the costs can run up into the hundreds or thousands, if you’re absolutely set on a certain domain. Here are a few factors that will influence the overall cost of your domain: The Top-Level Domain The top-level domain is the .com or .org that follows your domain. The top-level domain or domain name extension you choose will influence the overall cost of your domain. There are dozens of different top-level domains to choose from. But, the most common are .com, .org, .net, and .co. You’re probably best off choosing .com if it’s available. A lot of other domain name extensions are experimental, or country-specific, but sticking with common and widely recognized extensions is probably your best bet. Going for more abstract and creative domain name extensions will probably add a higher fee to your domain name purchase. The Type of Domain Purchasing a brand new domain will definitely be the cheapest option for acquiring a domain. But, there are other options available if you’re absolutely set on a domain. Here are two common methods for acquiring a domain besides purchasing it through a registrar: Reach out to the current site owner. If you do a domain search on HostGator Domains and see that the domain is already taken, then you might be able to get in touch with the owner and place a bid. This will usually be a more expensive route. You should expect to pay at least a couple hundred dollars, maybe more. Purchase your domain through a marketplace. There are sites like Sedo that list domain names that people already own. These domains are pretty pricey, but if you have the budget, this allows you to buy a domain outright, or make an offer. Once you’ve settled on your domain name it’s time to buy it. If you’re looking for the best deal, then you’ll probably want to buy your domain name right here at HostGator. Just type in your desired domain name, see if it’s available, and complete the purchase. If your domain is available, then your desired extension will influence the yearly price. You can simplify your life even further by purchasing your domain name and hosting together. 2. Website Hosting Costs Choosing the right web host for your website is a decision you’ll want to take seriously. The right web host will make it easy for you to build your website, as well as improve site performance, keep your site secure, and a lot more. When it comes to web hosting, you’re going to have a lot of different hosting options to choose from. For example, you’ve got shared hosting, WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting. On top of that, you have different hosting plans within each type of hosting. The hosting package you choose will greatly influence how much your site costs to build. Generally, hosting packages will range from $10/month to $150+/mo. That’s just a very basic estimation. Shared hosting will typically be the cheapest plan, but as your website requires more server resources to function, then you’ll need to upgrade to a more expensive plan. However, as your website grows, both in size and traffic levels, you’ll hopefully be making more money to cover the additional hosting costs. If this is your first website, then a basic shared hosting package will probably be the best type of hosting for your needs. Shared hosting is beginner-friendly, easy to set up, is very cheap, and gives you enough server resources to get you through the initial stages of growing your site. Did we mention it’s cheap? Yes. Here at HostGator, you can pick up the cheapest shared hosting plan for less than $3 a month! Website Design Costs: DIY vs. Professional Services With your domain name and hosting secured it’s time to look at the other big factor that’ll influence the cost of building your website. This section is highly variable, as you’ll soon learn. But, as a general rule of thumb, the more work you’ll willing to do yourself, the cheaper designing your website will be. Here’s a look at the two different routes to building your website: 1. DIY Website Building Costs When building your website yourself you’re going to have a few different options to explore. Unless you know how to code (or want to learn), you’ll primarily be relying on a website builder or a CMS like WordPress to build out your site. Here’s a cost breakdown of each of these two routes to site creation. Cost of Using a Website Builder Website builders make it incredibly easy to build out your site. These tools are created for complete beginners meaning it won’t take any coding knowledge to build out your site. The general process will be as follows: you select a template, make changes via a drag and drop interface, add your content, then publish your site. There are dozens of different website builders that exist online today, including one here at HostGator. By using a builder like the Gator Website Builder you’ll help to keep costs low while building out a beautiful and functional website. Cost of Using WordPress to Build Out Your Site Another common option is using WordPress to build out your site. WordPress is a free CMS, so there won’t be any upfront costs required to build your site. All you need to do is install WordPress on your site, which you can do from within cPanel. Then, you’ll customize your site by choosing a theme, and add more features to your site via the vast plugin library. The costs for using WordPress to build your site are highly variable. For example, you can get away with building a WordPress site entirely for free by relying on free themes and plugins. Or, you can spend $100+ on a premium theme, along with premium plugins that range from $10-50+ per month. It all depends on your theme and plugin selection. 2. Professional Website Design Costs Getting your website built by a professional will be the most expensive option by far. The price for a professional website build will vary greatly. The overall cost depends on the type of site you want to be built and who you’re using to build out your website. Here’s a general average cost breakdown for professional web design services: Basic small business site – $1000 – $7500+Larger business site – $10,000 – $25k+eCommerce site – $5000 – $20k+Freelance hire – $500 – $5000+ These are very rough estimates. Generally, if you’re going to hire a developer via a site like Upwork then your costs will be cheaper than if you’re hiring a web design agency to build out your site. It’ll also be cheaper to have a developer customize an existing theme than create a brand new WordPress theme from scratch. On the other hand, if you hire a web design agency, they’ll be able to bring their expertise from creating hundreds of sites and apply that knowledge to your site. They may also bring additional expertise a freelance developer may not have, like UX, SEO, and PPC. How Much Does a Website Cost? The Verdict Hopefully, you have a better idea of the answer to the question: how much does a website cost? As you can see there are ways you can build a website for basically nothing, while other website builds will run up into the thousands of dollars. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get a website online, then consider using some of the resources here at HostGator. For a domain name and the cheapest shared hosting plan, you’re looking at roughly a $15 upfront investment. Then, you can use WordPress or the bundled website builder. If you’re going to be hiring a professional to build out your website then expect to pay a lot more. The overall cost will depend on the designer or design firm you’re using, along with what you’re asking them to do. For example, doing WordPress theme customizations will be cheaper than building out a 100-page eCommerce site. There is no clear cut cost for the price you’ll pay to build out your website. But, this is kind of a good thing. It means that you can build a website, no matter your budget or existing technical skills. You can create your new website yourself, or you can hire a professional to take care of everything for you. Overall, it’s up to you how much your website costs to build. Whether you have a low or high budget, you’ll be able to find the right combination of tools to help launch your dream website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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