To help keep you up-to-date with the latest news and ideas from the industry, we have compiled the latest articles from industry leaders and corporate blogs. New content is pulled hourly from each blog's RSS feed. The article links will take you directly to the related blog.
A Liquid Web Linux Support Technician on the power of family, loving the people you work with, and being unafraid to go after the life and career you want.
“I love to see a project at its small beginnings, to nurture its progress, and to be able to take part in that kind of growth,” says Ramos. “I try to apply this not only to my career in tech, but also to people. It’s a good way to build relationships.”
In a high school photoshop class, Annacani Ramos’ love of technology was born when she put new skills to use repairing an old photograph of her grandparents. This act combined her love of family and her aspirations to learn continually. It also planted the seeds that would eventually lead her to a career in technology.
Ramos is from the outskirts of Laredo, Texas, a little town called Rio Bravo situated on the banks of the Rio Grande River where she lived with her family. “I grew up with a single-parent working mom and spent most of my days with my grandmother along with my younger brother and sister,” says Ramos. “My first language was Spanish, which continued to be my dominant language until I went to high school.” In Laredo, Ramos attended a magnet school in Business & Technology where she developed an interest in technology, played sports year-round to stay active, and worked part-time to cultivate her independence.
Though she now lives in San Antonio (where she will run her first half-marathon in December), her ties to Laredo are still powerful, thanks to her love of her family and the city’s authentic Mexican food.
Motivated by her family and a desire for continual growth, her favorite quote by John Lennon sums up her philosophy: I’m not really a career person; I’m a gardener, basically. Ramos isn’t interested in getting caught up in titles and status. “I like to think of myself as a gardener too,” says Ramos, “because I love to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, wherever those paths may take me.”
Upon graduating high school, Ramos dedicated herself to finding a career that offered her abundant chances to expand her skill sets and embrace learning opportunities. Before turning to tech, she worked as a 911 operator, a personal trainer, and even attended the University of Texas in San Antonio, where she received her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. “Right after I obtained my teaching certification, I became a 2nd Grade Teacher in San Antonio for two years, then taught Kindergarten for three, and finally 6th Grade for a year after that,” says Ramos, “but my passion for technology still ate at me.”
Unable to rid herself of her interest in computers, Ramos took classes that would allow her to take part in the Open Cloud Academy, where she fell in love with Linux. “The education at Open Cloud Academy was so hands-on. I was able to network with technology enthusiasts. Once I completed my course and became a Red Hat Certified System Administrator, I applied to Liquid Web to become a Helpful Human in Hosting as a Linux Support Technician.”
Ramos loves that in tech, growth is often tangible. “The results are noticeable,” she says. “You can test and configure until you achieve the desired result, which can then be measured.” Her favorite part of her career in tech, though, is working alongside her colleagues at Liquid Web. “I get to be one of The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting! And my colleagues live up to the name— even within the company. They are so helpful and easy to talk to.”
Making the leap from education to technology was a huge step and one that Ramos is grateful she took. “I wanted to be somewhere that I could learn more. I’ve discovered that, in this industry, learning never stops. I love to see a project at its small beginnings, to nurture its progress, and to be able to take part in that kind of growth. I try to apply this not only to my career in tech, but also to people. It’s a good way to build relationships, tending to what you can. As a parent, too, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be Mom of the Year, just the best mother I can be.”
It is her role as a parent that keeps her motivated, keeping her two-year-old daughter in mind in everything she does. “She loves to read books, play outside, and make friends. My daughter and my family are the reasons I keep moving forward and continue to learn and grow to strive to be a better person,” Ramos says.
Ramos is excited for what the future holds and hopes that women in technology will continue to guide and support one another. For those interested in tech and considering a career change, Ramos offers words of encouragement saying, “Go for it! Get clear about what you want and keep moving forward, no matter what comes your way. Follow through. You never regret taking a chance on the life you want.”
The post Women in Technology: Annacani Ramos appeared first on Liquid Web.
Thinking about adopting DevOps but not sure where to start?
As organizations are ever more eager to digitize and automate processes, the number looking into adopting DevOps models has increased greatly. Because the approach typically depends on each company’s objectives and teams, there is no universal secret to adopting it.
This can make the leap into DevOps daunting.
Most organizations want to get on board with the DevOps approach to make their teams more agile and competitive, while cutting down costs and building revenue.
In order to do this, they need to get into a DevOps mindset to create common goals not only for engineering teams, but also for CEOs and CIOs who need to work together and establish an agenda that incorporates the most important objectives.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for more tips on infrastructure optimization.
Here’s how to adopt that mindset enterprise-wide.
Steps to Easily Get Started with DevOps
First of all, companies need to investigate and find out what the process of getting the software from development to production looks like in their world.
This includes considering all roadblocks in the delivery process, what does not work, and then deciding what needs immediate revision. Businesses should understand that before a DevOps model works enterprise-wide, they need to test different tools.
Be ready to fail fast and move on to the next experiment.
Most importantly, all teams involved need to be well aware of the reasons they are involved in the project, what was done in the past and why it did not work well, and what can be done in the present to make it more productive in the future. DevOps is not just about automating processes, but about real team-work and communication to improve software development, delivery, and testing.
DevOps is a mindset, not a destination.”
Another important step in adopting a DevOps model after identifying the value streams and roadblocks is to come up with honest key performance indicators to measure both failures and progress.
Some examples could include deployment speed and frequency, time spent from deployment to production, and failure rates.
All team members need to be kept in the loop about all progress, because visibility and transparency are critical in adopting a DevOps model that works.
No matter what some would advertise, there is no such thing as a universal DevOps tool or DevOps model that will deliver instant success, because each company is unique and has specific needs to focus on.
The most important step in the entire process is to start slowly and not rush deployment across the entire organization from day one. It takes time to get things up and running, so it is wise to just start with a small pilot project that will help understand value stream roadblocks, impact, and how long it takes to fix them, as well as conduct thorough quality assurance.
The most important tip is to test everything and then use all the lessons learned at this early stage to step-by-step scale the model across the entire organization.”
Organizations can have a hard time reaching the true potential of a DevOps model, yet a managed service provider with hands-on customer support can guide them in understanding the tools they need to implement, and how to do so based on their business objectives.
The Benefits of Adopting a DevOps Model
DevOps is based on collaboration between development and operations, but to be successful, all departments involved have to think outside the box of traditional software development and understand all steps of the process. This starts with understanding the reasons behind the product or service they are developing, followed by the testing and deployment stages to ultimately deliver quality faster to market.
It is almost impossible to adopt a DevOps model if all teams involved do not reach common ground on benefits and objectives for the entire company instead of a single team. These can range from reducing costs, automating processes, and better support and faster repair times, all the way to enhancing agility and better working teams. To reach such work bliss among departments, it may require months or years of deployment across the entire enterprise, depending on the size of the organization.
A company cannot decide to adopt a DevOps model overnight and expect it to deliver results immediately. It needs to implement an overall DevOps culture that puts team collaboration first to eventually build better software faster, scale the business, and set up more efficient teams.”
In the DevOps journey, absolutely all team members are equally responsible for the entire process from development to operations, and have complete visibility over the project, which could lead to new team roles.
Businesses need to be innovative in an increasingly competitive market, so speed and agility are critical in a world of extensive interest in digitization with high demand for companies to stay relevant. To achieve this, they need to adopt a DevOps environment for software development to phase out roadblocks and ensure a seamless workflow between development and operations.
A more dynamic and flexible development life cycle will optimize response time for customer demands, no matter how often changes are requested.
Starting Enterprise Changes for DevOps
As previously mentioned, each organization adopts a DevOps approach based on its company values, culture, and workflow, because DevOps is a mix of approaches and tools that creates a more efficient work process and establishes a culture of teamwork between departments that used to be separate.
Although they might end up using similar tools, companies will still have unique workflows and business needs so one approach could not work for the other, which is why it typically takes so long to make an organizational change without compromising quality.
Start Implementing DevOps Today Using VMware Private Cloud
Learn how you can make DevOps a reality by using VMware Private Cloud for your next DevOps project.
The post How to Adopt a DevOps Model for Your Business appeared first on Liquid Web.
Are you struggling to understand the new data regulations, or do you eyes cloud over when you hear about data privacy?
You may have heard of GDPR, CCPA, the Nevada privacy law, and cookie notifications. It’s easy to get lost and confused with all of these rules and regulations.
What information you collect
What you do with that information
Who you share it with
Get more insight into data privacy sent straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Some examples of this type of information can include: name, email, phone number, or address. You may be collecting this type of information on your contact form or email newsletter sign-up form.
Let’s talk about some common misconceptions regarding this topic.
The Four Laws Currently Affecting Privacy Policies
A common misconception is that if your business is not located in a country or state mentioned above, then you are in the clear. Unfortunately, that is just not the case.”
These laws were written to protect the people of that country or state. Since consumers do not always search online by location of the business and the Internet has no physical boundaries, it is very likely that some or even all of these laws may apply to you, regardless of your physical location.
Regulations are Constantly Changing
Unfortunately for businesses as well, fines for non-compliance can be steep, with some fines costing $2,500 or more per website visitor.”
Liquid Web Can Help With Compliant Web Hosting
Learn more about how Liquid Web cares about your data privacy.
What if I told you that backing up your VPS does not have to be a daunting task?
For many small business owners, one of the most crucial time and resource savers are adequate backups.
When your site is working as it should, things are great. You can conduct business, and people get the information about your business that they need.
But what happens when your site is not correctly working, and the need arises to restore it to a previous point in time when it was working?”
Think through these questions:
Is your VPS backed up?
Are only a portion of your files backed up, or are all of the files included?
Are the backups local to your machine, remote to another secure location, or both?
There are so many choices to make and things to consider when it comes to making sure your files and data get backed up in a secure and orderly fashion. If you don’t have a managed hosting provider or system administrator to help, it can be overwhelming.
Get weekly tips and tricks for securing your infrastructure sent straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Have no fear. We have five tips on how to backup your VPS. But first, let’s outline some specific use cases and types of backups.
Backup Use Cases
In today’s technological world, we all use some form of backups. Take your phone, for example.
Your smartphone has a cloud backup of your data on your account. Regardless of your choice of the mobile operating system, you can sync documents and other files and use them on different devices. In other words, the data is stored elsewhere for use at anytime.
In theory, this is how your VPS backups can get used. The two main use cases for backups are:
File Restoration: Restoring a file or folder that has been corrupted or deleted due to system or human error.
Full Server Recovery: Recovering the entire server to a previous restore point after catastrophic data loss.
Two common types of backups are full and incremental.
Full backups, like Liquid Web’s Cloud Backups, are typically taken daily and backup the data on the entire server. While individual files are recoverable, most often, these backups are used for full server recovery.
The significant advantage of full backups is that all of the data on the server is in one place. The only real drawback is that these types of backups typically take some time to complete.
Incremental backups update changes to the files system. The frequency with which this happens depends on how you implement these backups.
These types of backups are done more easily since less information is processed. The downside to incremental backups is that there are multiple restore points. Targeted data for recovery or restoration can be spread across several backups.
5 Tips For Backing Up Your VPS
1. Decide What Needs to Be Backed Up and Where
To some, this may seem obvious, but knowing ahead of time what data you are going to to be backing up is essential.
There may be multiple destinations for your backups and knowing what is backed up and where will make disaster recovery planning simple. The where part of the plan can be especially critical but can quickly be solved once everything is mapped out.
For instance, if you are doing full server backups only, having at least one day’s worth stored locally or a server image on your account where available, can save time should a file need to be restored.
Off-site backups have their place but can take longer if a single file needs to be restored and not the entire server. You may also choose to keep specific files and folders backed up, which means having them local and some form of full server backups remote make for the redundancy most businesses need.
2. Decide on Your Backup Solutions
Your backups can be stored locally, remotely, or a combination of the two.
As mentioned above, deciding what data or files you are retaining will determine which option you choose. Fortunately, there are many options within the scope of local and remote backups.
Depending on your operating system of choice, you can use built-in tools and commands to copy and store files locally. Provided your server is not rendered unreachable, you can restore from those files reasonably quickly and easily.
Both Linux and Windows have options for setting up and maintaining local backups.
We also talked about remote backups, and for disaster recovery, this is an invaluable tool. Should your server become unresponsive or fatally crash, remote backups allow you to restore from a recent restore point and minimize data loss.
3. Automate Backups Wherever Possible
So, you’ve chosen what you are backing up and where you wish to back those things up.
Next, you have to determine how the tools you are using will accomplish this task. Usually, this will factor into manual processes, such as command prompts or operating system file-level backups.
The best implementation of backups is one where you don’t have to touch them unless you are testing to make sure they are functioning correctly.”
If there is an automated process for your backups, use it! Most hosting control panels, such as Interworx, Plesk, and cPanel, have an automatic backup system that allows for easy setup and management of backups for your VPS.
4. Diversify Your Backup Locations
Most industry professionals would call this having “backups for your backups.”
Redundant? Yes. Effective in emergencies? Very much so.
If you choose to have VPS backups stored locally and remotely by your host provider, using tools like Secure File Transfer Protocol to keep remote copies at another location gives you that much more redundancy.”
Many times, we don’t think about the unforeseen until it happens. While most managed hosting providers have built-in security measures to help curb data loss for backup solutions, taking your data into your own hands is never ill-advised.
There is no such thing as having too much life insurance, and when it comes to your virtual machine data, you cannot be too safe.
5. Test Server Backups Before You Need Them
Setting up a plan to create backups for your VPS is only part of the battle to protect your data.
Without adequate testing, you could still be at risk if the backup is not configured the right way. Restoring files or groups of data will help you to determine that backups take as desired, and your chosen methods work to your satisfaction.
Testing makes sure that the methods you have chosen work best for your project and environment. While this type of testing may not be ideal for live situations, performing tests ensure that the backup solutions for your VPS work as needed before your project deploys.
Should there be a catastrophic occurrence, you know that your data is safe and can adequately get restored.
Proper planning and execution of a backup strategy will yield great results for your business in the long run. Whether replicating files and folders or backing them up to another drive or remote location, it is up to you to see the plan through.
Liquid Web Can Help With Backups
With the help of a managed hosting provider, along with local and remote backups, your data and your business continuity is in good hands.
The post 5 Tips For Backing Up Your VPS appeared first on Liquid Web.
InterWorx is a control panel for your server and sites.
InterWorx provides tools to configure your web server, email, domains, and web sites. You can use it to install WordPress, manage your files, and improve your security.
InterWorx gives you everything you need to launch and manage your website.”
A lot goes into getting your website and server up and running. While it is possible to configure all of the relevant pieces directly from the command line, using a control panel like InterWorx makes the job much easier.
InterWorx is broken into two main sections, NodeWorx and SiteWorx.
NodeWorx is where you will focus on configuring and monitoring your server as a whole.
SiteWorx provides access to the tools for managing your websites, email, and databases.
Let’s explore who can use InterWorx, how it works, and what it can do.
Check out our complete guide on How to Migrate from cPanel to InterWorx.
Who Can Use InterWorx?
Web Designers and Developers
InterWorx is a smart choice for anyone needing to get their site up and running on a cloud or dedicated server. It helps you spend less time administering the server and more time focused on delivering code and content.
From configuring Apache to installing WordPress and everything in between, InterWorx has the tools to make your job easier.
Agencies and Resellers
Managing multiple sites across different customers is a big job. InterWorx can help you keep everything straight. Install different sites into their own accounts, give users access to just what they need, so you can focus on running your business.
With the ability to plugin to WHMCS, InterWorx is a perfect fit for a growing reseller or agency.”
InterWorx Controls Your Server (with NodeWorx)
You can login to NodeWorx at yourdomain.com:2443/nodeworx. When you first login with your email address and password (check your email after installation for instructions on logging in) you will be signed into NodeWorx.
The login homepage will give you an overview of running services as well as some usage charts for CPU, memory, and traffic.
Below is a brief overview of each section within the NodeWorx navigation.
If you have other users that need to manage your server with you, this is where you will manage their access. In this section you can configure access to the NodeWorx control panel.
Create additional users and manage those users experience with themes, API access, and alert subscriptions.
This heading does not put you in the SiteWorx interface, but rather allows you to configure users to login to SiteWorx. SiteWorx users will be able to configure everything they need to run their website.
When creating accounts in SiteWorx you can allocate access to different resources through creating Packages.
Packages allow configuration for a variety of options including storage, bandwidth, email, domains, and databases. Each of these can be configured to specific limits or ‘unlimited’.”
If you are migrating to InterWorx you can also import users and configurations from other popular control panels. Accounts can be imported one by one, or through mass import.
InterWorx gives you everything you need to start reselling your server. Packages can be configured and assigned to reseller accounts. Resellers can then login and create SiteWorx accounts under their reseller account.
This the heart of configuring your server. All of the primary services can be configured and monitored from here. These services include Apache, FTP, SSH, Dovecot, qmail, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, MySQL, DNS, and NFS.
This section is where your overarching firewall and security settings can be configured. CSF, LFD, and firewall options can be managed here.
Here you can manage a few more details about your server as a whole. Software repositories can be configured and packages kept up to date. You can review log files and crontabs, and configure IPs.
Don’t just take our word for it. See what this customer had to say about using InterWorx.
InterWorx Controls Your Sites (with SiteWorx)
Once the basic setup for your server has been completed for InterWorx (which is mostly done by default on installation) you are ready to get your site going with SiteWorx.
To login to SiteWorx, go to yourdomain.com:2443/siteworx. You will need the email address, password, and domain name of your SiteWorx account to login. Once in, you will be able to see an overview of usage on your domain.
This is where all of the magic happens. Email addresses, aliases, forwarders, and webmail can all be setup.
Secondary domains, parked domains, and domain redirects can be configured. MySQL databases and their accompanying users, FTP accounts, and cron jobs can all be configured through the interface.
Last, and definitely not least, Softaculous is available for the automated install of a large selection of tools from blogs to wikis.
Additional accounts can be created and configured to your SiteWorx domain. You can also view recent visitors and web access logs here.
After all of the work you have done to build your site, you don’t want to lose anything. You can manually create backups, or configure them to run on a schedule. If anything happens, you can restore those backups from here as well.
Everybody loves to have their content seen. Understanding your visitors can provide great insights into how your website is being used. AWStats and Webalizer are ready to help turn your server access logs into understanding.
Move your files around and get them all into the right place.
Here you can enable server logs, and subscribe to notifications on issues from your site such as SSL expiration or usage overages.
With such a deep feature set and intuitive interface, InterWorx is clearly a strong option for a control panel. Whether you are a lone developer, or a member of a large team, InterWorx has tools to help you do your job.
With recent pricing increases plaguing the control panel market right now, InterWorx is the most affordable option with the biggest feature set. With built in migrations from other control panels, migration is easy. See how to get started at our Help Center.
Get Started With InterWorx Today
With simple per-server pricing starting at $20/month, spinning up an InterWorx server couldn’t be easier or more affordable. Make the switch today!
The post What is InterWorx? appeared first on Liquid Web.
Its 3 am on Sunday morning and your cell phone is ringing. It’s the CEO of your company.
Quickly, you pinch yourself to see if you are dreaming.
Nope, not a dream.
You wipe the cold out of your eyes, clear your throat and reluctantly answer the call.
The CEO is obviously shaken and by the sound of his tone, it appears something detrimental has occurred. He anxiously exclaims the business is losing money by the second.
As your CEO continues speaking, you being the IT Manager, vaguely remember a meeting you had a few weeks back with your marketing team about a social media influencer campaign they were going to run. They shared data with an estimated increase in traffic and wanted to make sure the infrastructure was going to be able to handle the large influx of visitors with the current setup.
Unfortunately, you underestimated the traffic.
It’s all a blur as the CEO explains the database is completely down and customers can’t reach the site which means lost revenue. Your CEO continues and begins to question your competence in your role.
You had one job: ensure that the companies website is always online.
After 10 minutes, you finally get a chance to get a word in and you let him know you will be contacting your hosting provider immediately.
You fear your job is in jeopardy and feel the guilt in the pit of your stomach.
The damage has been done.
You start to ask yourself: could there have been a way to avoid this problem?
Yes, you should have listened to your marketing team, but what if they had not brought this to your attention. What other precautions could you have taken to avoid downtime?
Was there a way to avoid hardware failure altogether?
Learn how highly available infrastructure can help your business. Download our white paper on Why High Availability Matters – And How You Can Achieve It Reliably and Affordably.
Can Hardware Failure Happen?
If you have read this far, you have either first hand experienced a similar problem of downtime or you fear that this could happen to you at any moment.
What a lot of people do not understand is hardware failure occurs all the time. It is inevitable.
Hardware failure is defined as a malfunction to the circuits or mechanical components of the infrastructure or system.”
In this case, we are talking about hardware failure in a datacenter.
What Can Hardware Failure at a Datacenter Include?
Hardware failure in a datacenter can include failure from any of the following systems:
Other internal components
Whether you are new to IT or very tenured, the fact remains that hardware failure happens to everyone at some point.
What you do today in preparing for the worst can affect your job, but more importantly, it will also have an affect on your quality of life.”
Wouldn’t it be less stressful if you had the proper systems, procedures, and protocols in place so that when disaster strikes your system stays online?
Even better, you would be able to rest easy at night and be fully away from work when out of the office, knowing that the infrastructure is prepared for anything (and your job is safe).
Let’s look at some of the ways to keep your systems online despite hardware failure.
How to Avoid Hardware Failure
Initially, pricing for disaster recovery can become the focal point of conversations internally in a business where budget constraints can be an obstacle in standing up a solution similar to the above.
Savvy operation teams and go to market leadership often run an analysis to determine how tolerant the business can be with downtime.
Questions to Consider During Your Downtime Tolerance Analysis
Two questions to consider when doing an analysis would be:
1. How Much Revenue is Lost Every Minute the Site(s) are Unreachable?
For most businesses, calculating the revenue lost during hardware failure is not as simple as calculating the number of customers that could not get to our site(s) multiplied by our typical conversion rate.
Revenue, “the great equalizer,” is often affected in many indirect ways during hardware failure. It’s much more extensive (and expensive, unfortunately).
Revenue loss can include employee productivity loss, loss of access to essential systems like POS, VOIP, and email, as well as lost customers and new potential sales.”
2. How Much Brand Damage Occurs When the Site(s) are Down?
Brand damage is likely the harder of the two to quantify. It really boils down to one question:
How is your brand name perceived by the public now that your site(s) are down?”
Sometimes a single blip of downtime can cause the loss of a large opportunity. The impact on the brand naturally varies based on a host of different reasons.
The leadership team at the business will be the best judge of the opportunities lost, brand perception damage, and potential future sales lost as a result.
Decide if the Benefits of a Highly Available System Outweigh Potential Downtime
Any way you slice it, you have to evaluate if the benefit of purchasing high availability infrastructure outweighs the cost of potential revenue and brand losses due to downtime.
We often insure the things that we personally value like our cars, boats, homes, and health. Businesses survive disasters, and even thrive, based on revenue and brand reputation.
Why risk-taking blows to either from poor analysis and poor planning?
What Type of Solutions are There?
Did you know that Liquid Web has solutions for both disaster recovery and high availability? The good news is we can help tailor a custom solution suitable for your downtime tolerance, even if that tolerance is zero.
Our high availability solutions can ensure that you can handle large influxes of traffic so that you can focus more on sales and employee productivity, even during hardware failure.
Liquid Web’s disaster recovery options provide you with the infrastructure needed to develop policies and procedures that can quickly allow you to resume vital functions after a natural or human-related disaster. Both solutions include our world-class rock solid support by the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting.
Learn More About High Availability Infrastructure
The post How to Avoid Hardware Failure appeared first on Liquid Web.
We’re the employees you would hire if you could. Responsive, helpful, and dedicated in ways automation simply can’t be. We’re your team.
Each month we recognize one of our Most Helpful Humans in Hosting.
Wes Mills is our amazing “mad” data scientist at Liquid Web in charge making the magic happen by curating and organizing the large amounts of data that comes into Liquid Web. In other words, he makes our customer experience better through data analysis and objective process changes.
Wes is obsessed with the behaviors of people and how they connect and intersect, making his work in analytics and marketing the perfect fit for him at Liquid Web.
Why did you join Liquid Web?
After graduating from the University of Texas with a B.B.A. in Marketing and Economics in 2013, I ventured out to find a career that married digital marketing with behavioral economics. Data was plentiful and interesting, which made the choice easy to start my career at an agency.
I continued to expand my breadth of experiences across the business, which led me into other quantitative roles in a handful of other great organizations, including Rackspace.
When the opportunity for Liquid Web presented itself, I knew it was a perfect fit—both in terms of the culture at Liquid Web and the solutions required for the business to grow. I had finally found a role that brought data science and marketing together along with an amazing group of brilliant people.”
What draws you to the hosting industry as a career?
I’m drawn to the hosting industry because of two things: first, businesses are moving to the cloud and it’s enabling smaller companies to scale their output with minimal cost. Second, as the industry matures, differentiation becomes a lot more important which brings unique challenges and problems to solve at Liquid Web. These are the exact challenges I knew I could help with entering the door at Liquid Web.
Is there something specific at Liquid Web that you just love?
I love that Liquid Web is able to be agile, even in the area of data and analytics. For instance, we’ve adopted new tools that help us gather data from disparate sources, analyze data much more quickly, and tell our stories in a more compelling way with the latest visualization tools. That helps our teams make data-based decisions in real-time, giving us an edge on the competition.
What’s your favorite part about the company culture at Liquid Web?
Customer-facing or not, everyone is truly a Helpful Human in Hosting. If I’m curious about how something works at Liquid Web, I know someone will be more than happy to walk me through it. And that isn’t common in today’s workplace.”
For instance, when I first joined, one of our Software Architects named Mike was patient in explaining how our customers check out online, and he answered every question I threw at him (some even late into the night!).
Through our collaboration and his brilliance, we were able to gain insight that made buying Liquid Web products much easier online for customers. And that’s a win everyone is now enjoying.
In your eyes, what’s the difference between Liquid Web and other employers?
Liquid Web has a culture of allowing all to voice opinions or thoughts—everyone has a voice. With a flat hierarchy, meaning everyone is treated equally whether you’re a manager or a VP. Everyone has a say in how things are done.
This leads to better business decisions company-wide and higher morale for all employees.
What is the biggest milestone you’ve accomplished?
The biggest milestone I’ve accomplished at Liquid Web is being able to answer questions using data we’ve never consumed before. With analytics, we can ask better questions and form hypotheses that may solve critical roadblocks hindering achieving revenue goals.
A great example of this is better understanding the value of display ads. Giving marketing leaders insight on the value of display and other marketing channels makes our marketing team run more efficiently through attributing value to marketing channels that are working, and rerouting funds away from ones that are not.
I also loved being part of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month video series, helping to raise awareness about how data science can secure your data. Check it out!
Tell us about the most positive experience you have had at Liquid Web.
The most positive experience I’ve had at Liquid Web is expanding the analytics team and scaling the impact the team can have. A two-man analytics team turned into three, which exponentially increased the amount of information we shared across Liquid Web along with the quality of insights shared. In addition, watching our new team member develop and learn difficult skills quickly has been incredibly rewarding.
What are you known for at Liquid Web? What do people specifically come to you for?
I’m known at Liquid Web for being the go-to on marketing analytics, customer behavior, and automating manual processes (who doesn’t love automating mundane work?). For instance, we used to gather insights from a third-party organization on our customers by pulling a manual list of customers. Now, we have automated the process, giving back extra time to the team to achieve more.
Work aside, what are some of your hobbies?
I’m a musician (guitar is the primary tool of choice), and I love GarageBand—you can record, mix, and produce anywhere you are!
What is your favorite TV show?
The Bachelor. It’s like watching a behavioral economics experiment. How do people deal with scarcity? Or, better, how does one deal with excess supply? Let the drama commence.
If you could have dinner with one famous person [dead or alive] who would it be?
Cornelius Vanderbilt, the business magnate known for owning the New York Central Railroad. He was able to shape the very geography of the United States by laying the infrastructure that would make transportation across vast distances possible. He used the latest technologies to organize his businesses differently. This is what inspires me in my career—never sticking to the status quo and always being willing to do things differently.
You can follow Wes Mills on LinkedIn.
We hope you enjoyed our series, and stay tuned for the next Most Helpful Human in Hosting profile.
The post Meet a Helpful Human – Wes Mills appeared first on Liquid Web.
Deciding whether to publish your agency or freelancer rates?
When creating a website for your agency or freelance business, you’re going to create your home page, about page, services page, contact page, and even your portfolio. You’ll even decide between unmanaged or managed hosting.
However, there is one thing that you still need to figure out:
Will you publish your pricing or make your rate card public on your site?
When deciding whether or not to display your rate card on your website and be completely transparent about all of your pricing, you need to factor in:
What type of clients you serve and how savvy they are
What type of work you’re doing
What project levels you offer
What price point you’re at
Whether or not you want the flexibility to adjust pricing as needed
Now some agency owners and freelancers say you should make your pricing public and others are abhorred by the idea—and neither camp is right or wrong.
Whether or not you make your rate card public is up to you, but to help make that decision easier, we’re going to run through some pros and cons of publishing your pricing on your website and an alternate option if you can’t decide.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more Web Professional content like this sent straight to your inbox.
Pros of Displaying Your Rate Card
As more and more businesses add eCommerce and online purchasing options to their sales strategy, consumers are becoming conditioned to expect a price to be displayed or to look for the pricing page on a website—and if they can’t find either of those, they’ll turn to social media to ask their networks about the cost.
Being transparent with your pricing and displaying your rate card on your website can be very helpful if you:
Compete on price, sell products, courses, or programs, or offer a commoditized service
Get a lot of inquiries about how much things cost
Need to weed out tire-kickers and bargain hunters who will never become a client
You don’t have time to deal with prospects who aren’t a great fit and ready to get started
Public pricing removes any questions, uncertainty, concerns, or nervousness about the investment required to work with you.”
Public pricing allows you to position yourself in the market effectively and your prospects to figure out if they are a great fit on their own—and when prospects know your pricing before they come to the sales call, the sales process is much shorter and easier.
Plus, let’s be honest, if clients ran the world, all pricing would be public. It’s why the very first question many clients ask is, “How much does a website cost?”
Cons of Displaying Your Rate Card
On the flipside, there are very strong arguments against displaying your rate card on your website and most are centered around misunderstandings, assumptions, and lack of flexibility.
For example, many agencies and freelance designers and developers don’t have a set price. Instead, they offer package pricing or value-based pricing that changes based on the scope of work, the timeline, and the client.
The arguments against publishing pricing on your website are quite obvious:
If a prospect sees your rate card on your website, they may automatically decide it’s too expensive and eliminates you from the discussion. Or they may think you’re too cheap and rule you out for not being at the level they need. Both decisions will be made without you ever having a chance to speak with them.
If your prices are public, it will enable your competition to use it against you or undercut you in competitive bidding situations.
When you publish your pricing, you can get stuck to that pricing structure and potentially lose out on larger budgets and larger projects. Oh, and you know those awesome portfolio-building projects you might charge less for just to win the project—you’ll probably lose out on those too.
If you publish itemized rates for things like administrative time, travel, and project management, in addition to the rates for design and development, the client may feel like you’re “nickel and diming them” — even if it’s what you’d do anyway in a package situation.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should display your rate card on your website, there is one other option. You can publish “starting at” pricing to establish project investment minimums. This approach is perfect for agencies and freelance designers and developers because it:
Sets a minimum price to weed out the tire-kickers and bargain hunters
Helps prospective clients see if they’re a good fit or their budget aligns with your pricing
Find Out How Managed Hosting Can Help Streamline Your Agency
The post Should You Display the Rate Card for Your Agency on Your Website appeared first on Liquid Web.
Did you know a company’s choice in web hosting infrastructure has effects on their site’s performance and brand perception?
Online services such as email, website, and eCommerce hosting are critical for practically any business operating in this day and age, but they all rely on servers to be constantly operational. Determining which server hosting is right for business objectives can have a major impact on the web hosting experience as a whole.
Businesses can choose between unmanaged and managed dedicated server plans, and while costs are important, the right solution is always based on an informed decision, instead of solely on cost upfront. It is vital for companies to understand that an ill-advised server plan will ultimately cost them even more money than initially budgeted.
Enterprises generally prefer dedicated server hosting plans, as they can achieve close to 100 percent uptime with performance efficiency and dependability, only without breaking the bank.”
Hosting companies provide two types of dedicated server solutions for their customers: unmanaged and managed, and to make a decision between them, it is important to understand the key differences between the two options.
What are Dedicated Servers?
Before we get into discussing unmanaged and managed dedicated servers, it is important to understand what dedicated servers actually are. Dedicated servers are remote servers assigned to an organization that are deployed, hosted, and often managed by a hosting company.
Companies that deploy dedicated servers generally do so because they have high traffic levels and are looking for a reliable server that will ensure top speed and performance, robust security to protect data and infrastructure, regular hardware maintenance, and performance monitoring.
Dedicated servers deliver more flexibility and control than shared servers, so they can be completely customizable to each organization’s needs. There is no specific number of websites that can be hosted on a dedicated server; it depends on the amount of resources required.
Dedicated Servers can also easily be upgraded and have resources added if necessary.
Liquid Web’s blog is full of useful tips on optimizing your hosting infrastructure. Subscribe now to get the latest right into your inbox.
What Kinds of Services Can Be Added to a Dedicated Server For Robust Performance?
Essential hosting services for dedicated servers can include:
PCI compliance scanning
Server protection for Linux or Windows
Firewall and VPN to protect servers from malicious Internet traffic
DDoS attack prevention
Web application protection
Highly scalable Storage Area Network (SAN)
Storage and backup services
What are Unmanaged Dedicated Servers?
Unmanaged dedicated servers are an option for companies who want to be in complete control and fully responsible for their hosting servers and software.”
This can be a cheaper option for companies with human resources and expertise they want to apply to server management, because the hosting company will only be responsible with ensuring that the infrastructure runs smoothly from a hardware perspective.
Many tasks fall on the organization’s plate, including installing scripts, keeping on top of all updates and related compatibility issues, security risk mitigation and attack containment. Lax server security opens up infrastructure vulnerabilities that will compromise business operations and expose the company to data breaches in the long run.
What are Managed Dedicated Servers?
Unlike unmanaged dedicated servers and just as the name suggests, managed dedicated servers fall under the full responsibility of the hosting company that hires engineers to monitor, configure, and handle the servers.
Businesses that choose managed dedicated servers do not want to bother with daily server administration because they find it too demanding and time consuming for their available resources.
Companies that choose managed hosting usually do not have to deal with any hardware, performance, monitoring, or security headaches.”
Web hosting companies also deliver locked-down security through their managed dedicated server plans by regularly updating and monitoring malware detection, DDoS protection, and taking care of automated data backups, and operating system hardening.
Compared to unmanaged dedicated servers, managed dedicated servers tend to deliver the highest level of performance and security through real-time traffic monitoring, and power and network uptime.
They can be fully customizable and built-to-order with Linux or Windows. Even for managed dedicated servers, plans can vary between self-managed, core managed, and fully managed.
Managed dedicated server solutions are a great option for companies that want to sleep well at night and that operate multi-user apps, databases of any kind, SaaS, virtualization, resellers, high traffic sites, and multiple websites.
Key Differences Between Unmanaged and Managed Dedicated Servers
Managed dedicated servers come with full support; companies do not need to allocate a lot of their own technical knowledge to server management because the hosting company will do all the work and can be contacted at any time to deliver support. The hosting company will take care of all components, any server reboots, and will ensure everything runs smoothly from a maintenance point of view, so that clients can focus their time and manpower on more important business-critical activities.
Unmanaged dedicated servers can have a significantly lower sticker price and deliver complete control and freedom for the client, but they also involve much more work on the customers’ end.
Not only does the organization have to install scripts, the operating system, control panel, and hardware by itself, but it will have to personally take care of configuration, security, and network and hardware maintenance. For companies that do not have this capacity, or are taking resources away from more important business function, unmanaged dedicated servers can wind up being significantly more expensive throughout the life-cycle of the service.
On a managed dedicated server plan, the hosting company can decide to replace all components and take care of the entire infrastructure. However, on an unmanaged dedicated server, the web host is no longer responsible with maintaining the control panel, nor for security vulnerabilities installed by the client. Any extra tech support request sent to the hosting company will result in extra charges and the hosting company cannot be held accountable for malfunctions or breaches caused by poor self-management.
Companies should choose the best plan according to how comfortable they are with the idea of managing their own servers and on how much expertise they have in fixing software glitches, security patching, and installing libraries or a multi-management control panel such as Plesk, cPanel, or InterWorx.
From an all-round financial point of view considering the total cost of ownership, managed dedicated servers are very easy to operate and a significantly better option for organizations that don’t want to get their hands dirty daily with server management as a core business function.”
Choosing the best server option depends on the individual business, its internal capacity, and technical requirements.
Learn How Much Managed Hosting Can Save Your Business
The post Managed vs Unmanaged Dedicated Servers appeared first on Liquid Web.
First of all, what is DevOps?
DevOps is short for Developer Operations and it is a newer approach that combines both development and operational tasks to automate and speed up software development practices and reduce release cycles for fast-growing companies.
DevOps is built on the concept of teamwork and aims to unite teams that were traditionally kept separate and siloed, and reduces the development lifecycle for faster scalability. Once companies have decided which their business needs and objectives are, they need to start small and work towards adopting the DevOps model across the entire enterprise.
Although there is no silver bullet for switching to DevOps, or universal solution that works for everyone, there are some software tools that can enable seamless collaboration and help with integration, delivery, testing, and monitoring.
DevOps automation tools built with the extensive know-how of many developers, programmers, and IT specialists are available to increase and improve productivity by keeping teams in sync, and make system delivery more agile.
When choosing which DevOps tools to integrate, a business not only has to consider its goals, but also its size and team. Before they can benefit from the full value DevOps has to offer, too many businesses struggle to understand and adapt the methodology and choose the right environment.
Whether they are development tools, continuous integration tools, deployment applications, or software for operations and monitoring, collaboration and planning, or continuous feedback or issue tracking, there are dozens of DevOps tools that companies can deploy for IT efficiency, depending on where they are in the development/delivery lifecycle. They are all designed to help with the key stages of continuous Integration, continuous delivery, continuous testing, and continuous monitoring.
We put together a list of the top DevOps tools to consider.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for more tips on infrastructure optimization.
DevOps Categories and Tools
Development Tools and Environments
Development tools and environments are programming tools to build and test software. Some can be very sophisticated and integrate other categories such as continuous integration, deployment, or monitoring. Some leading tools in this category are:
Docker – A tech suite that makes it easier for companies to build, distribute and run containers (distributed applications).
Kubernetes – A container orchestration system used for coordination.
Puppet Enterprise – A configuration management tool that runs the infrastructure as code.
Ansible – A tool that automates the entire application lifecycle.
Vagrant – A tool used to streamline software configuration management for virtualized environments.
Chef – A cloud automation tool for configuration management.
Gradle – An open-source build-automation system that uses a Groovy-based domain specific language (DSL) and Java, instead of XML.
TypeScript – An open-source programming language developed by Microsoft for large application development.
Angular – A tool used to develop mobile and desktop web applications.
Django – An open-source Python web framework that takes over web development.
Ionic 3 – A framework to develop web-apps.
Continuous Integration Tools
Continuous Integration (CI) tools help automate build testing and speed up reporting on glitches in real time in a code base thus eliminating manual software system integration. A few popular tools in this category are:
GitLab – A complete DevOps platform that does everything from project planning and source code management to CI/CD and monitoring.
Bamboo – A cloud or server-based tool developed by Atlassian that automates release management for continuous delivery.
TeamCity – A complex Java tool with a wide range of free plugins used to run builds and tests at the same time in different environments.
Apache Gump – An open-source Python tool that ensures projects are compatible at API level and have matching functionalities.
Sublime Text – A source code editor with a Python API.
Sumo Logic – A platform that delivers continuous real-time integration through security analytics and threat intelligence.
Postman – A platform for API development and testing.
Git extensions – A toolkit to make Git more intuitive, with extensions available for Linux and Mac OS X using Mono.
Deployment applications are tools for deployment automation and simplify application release to ensure continuous delivery. Some top tools in this category are:
Jenkins – A sophisticated open source server tool also used to automate development and continuous integration.
CA Release Automation – An enterprise-class solution to automate multi-tier release deployments.
XebiaLabs – A tool used by large organizations for application release orchestration.
UrbanCode – A continuous integration and build management server developed by IBM for customized frameworks.
Operations and DevOps Monitoring Tools
Operations and DevOps monitoring tools help gain better visibility in the ecosystem and achieve higher productivity with cross-functional teamwork. Well-known DevOps tools in this category include:
Prometheus – A toolkit for containers and microservices with event monitoring and alerting.
Nagios – Open-source software with system, network, and infrastructure monitoring capabilities.
New Relic – A tool for real-time performance insights for web and mobile apps.
PagerDuty – A popular SaaS incident response platform for operations management.
Splunk – A platform that delivers web and business analytics, application management, security, and compliance.
Raygun – A cloud-based tool for network monitoring and bug tracking.
Plutora – A tool that provides visibility into and analysis of the software delivery pipeline.
Loom Systems – A tool that predicts and prevents IT incidents during cloud migration or other changes in the enterprise.
Collaboration and Planning Tools
Collaboration and planning tools help different teams plan, track and collaborate on a project more efficiently. In this category, some popular tools include:
Git – A tool that track changes in source code during software development.
GitLab – Similar in name, but different from Git; it is a complete DevOps platform that does everything from project planning and source code management to CI/CD and monitoring.
Clarizen – An SaaS project management tool.
Slack – A messaging platform for real-time communication between teams.
Basecamp – A tool used for project management and real-time communication between teams.
Asana – A platform that organizes, tracks, and manages workflows.
GitKraken – Helps developers work more efficiently with Git on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Visual Studio – A tool developed by Microsoft that helps build computer programs, websites, and apps.
Trello – A team management application that helps keep track of all tasks and project progress.
Continuous Feedback Tools
Continuous feedback tools help keep all team members engaged and involved in the conversation, and also permit end-user interaction.
Jira – One of the most popular feedback, issue tracking, and task management tools developed by Atlassian.
MouseFlow – A tool that gives insights on how end-users interact with a website in terms of clicks, scrolls, and overall browsing experience.
SurveyMonkey – An online survey tool.
Issue Tracking Software
Issue tracking software is very important for DevOps teams because it helps them keep track of bugs and how fast they are fixed. Top picks include:
Jira – The standard in this category and is widely deployed by DevOps teams across multiple organizations.
Mantis Bug Tracker – An agile open-source security and license compliance management tool that identifies real-time security and compliance issues with libraries.
WhiteSource Bolt – A tool developed by Atlassian for Azure DevOps that manages open-source security and compliance.
Snort – An open-source security tool for real-time traffic analysis.
OverOps – A tool for data optimization and code analysis.
Code Climate – A code review tool that automatically monitors code health from command line to cloud.
Zendesk – Customer support software for better communication between end-users and support teams.
How Do I Choose the Best Tools?
In the next few years, nearly 40 percent of companies that have adopted DevOps methodology will secure their applications through application security self-testing, self-diagnosing, and self-protection technologies, according to research company Gartner.
However, not all businesses know how to adopt DevOps methodology or choose the best tools for their IT pipeline. Even fewer understand how to apply security measures to it.
A managed host can be a more cost-effective solution because it takes over infrastructure responsibilities and helps companies benefit from the agility of software lifecycle automation without having to create new technical roles or bother with continuous ownership, monitoring, and security.
The Right DevOps Environment Makes All The Difference. See Why VMware Private Cloud is a Cost-Effective Option For SMBs.
The post What are the Top DevOps Tools appeared first on Liquid Web.
Ever had a hard time finding new clients?
Even if you’ve been running your business for years, it can be hard to find work sometimes. Many people start looking for new markets to target when times are lean, but the truth is that many times most of your existing market doesn’t know your name.
Seth Godin says it well in The Dip:
Sure, some of the people in a market have considered you (and even rejected you). But most of the people in the market have never even heard of you. The market doesn’t have just one mind. Different people in the market are seeking different things.”
Today we’re going to look at some of the methods you can use to reach that overwhelming portion of your market that doesn’t know you yet, including the bullseye marketing method.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more Web Professional content like this sent straight to your inbox.
Find Your Personality
When many businesses get started, they default to bland marketing speak. Even solo business owners like myself fall into this trap as they try to sound bigger and more serious than they are.
Unfortunately this type of marketing language makes you sound like a cardboard cutout, and few people are going to be willing to hire you.
In an entertaining retrospective, Jack McDade founder of Statamic talked about the impact that adding personality to the branding for his product had in 2017. From 2013- 2017, Stamatic had a slow climb in popularity. Once he added his 80’s branding aesthetic to the website’s design, it stood out from all the flat designs out there.
This re branding translated into more sales and brand recognition.
Similarly, I use Lego images and talk about my kids and mountain running on my site because that’s who I am. Remember, your clients are hiring you, not an agency where people may change throughout the project.
I even take my personality into my contracts, which talk about maple syrup fights and shiny gold plated billing robots (doesn’t that sound like more fun to read than a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo?).
Enjoy New Pitches
When I started adding personality to my work I also started getting hilarious pitches from potential customers. One spent three paragraphs talking about their favorite cyclist in the Tour De France that year because they read a post about my cycling habits.
This inclusion of personality has also meant that years after I’ve worked with some clients we are still emailing a few times a year to check up on how each other are doing in their running or triathlons. These are the long-term connections that continue to bring in referrals.
I know that you’re wondering if too much personality can scare off some clients; yes it will. I’ve had people read my contract and then say they would never work with someone that used a contract like mine.
Remember, that you should be working with your ideal clients, so this filters out some of the people that aren’t the best fit with the way I work.”
Your goal should never be to win every prospect that comes in the door, but to play the long game of having a business that you still enjoy running in a decade. That means you work with the customers that fit with your long-term vision best.
Establish Your Single Metric That Matters
Before we can dig into the act of marketing, we need to determine what the single metric that matters for us is.
Start With Website Traffic
When you’re starting, it’s likely simple traffic to your site because it’s a decent starting measure for how much of the existing market knows you. It’s also true that without some type of traffic you won’t be able to start to test any of the other types of metrics that can be used.
To track traffic you can use pretty much any analytics package such as Google Analytics, WordPress Stats, or Fathom. The key is for you to be able to identify when a marketing effort is yielding more traffic to your site, and what types of content are yielding the best retention on your site.
One caution here is that you don’t just want any traffic.
A number of years ago StumbleUpon was a huge driver of traffic to sites and I got lots of requests from clients to make sure that they could get that traffic.
The problem was that StumbleUpon was random traffic to your site. Sure there was some filters for preference, but most of the traffic wasn’t looking for your product. They were simply bored and clicked a button to take them to a random website.
This wasn’t quality traffic that would create new business. The likelihood of getting a decent lead out of those thousands of visits in a day was unlikely.
All it did was cost you money in hosting as you used up valuable server resources on people that didn’t care about you or what you had to offer.
Look At Conversions
Once you have some traffic, it’s time to start looking at conversions. You don’t only want traffic. Ultimately, you want people that are interested in your products or services.
Prospects signal that they are interested by signing up for your email lists, joining your forums, or leaving comments on your site.”
The king of these types of metrics is the email list subscription, because despite so many people talking about the demise of email, it’s by far the best medium for conversion of people into paying customers.
When you have a steady stream of minor conversions, it’s time to start looking at a major conversions, which is turning users into paying customers. Here you need to know what your current rate of leads is and then focus in on the methods that help increase this number (which requires analytics).
Remember, your goal is to build a system that allows you to hit your goals in a repeatable fashion.
If you’re focusing on traffic, knowing how to use ads or content regularly to get people to view your site is key.
For conversions, focus on downloadable content or other things that consistently entice people to raise their hand to say they’re interested in what you have to offer.
When it’s time to focus on getting paying customers, try refining your email sequences to increase the number of people that purchase.
Ultimately, all of these metrics are a cycle.
At some point you’ll hit a plateau in your traffic, and you can then move to getting more conversions until you hit a plateau there. Then you can start to look at turning your existing leads into clients. Once that seems to have plateaued and you’ve got process to consistently convert people into paying customers, you’ll head back to traffic and try some of the different methods listed below to optimize from the top down once more.
Focus Your Marketing
For each type of marketing metric you’re currently focusing on, you can use the same method to figure out which marketing method is going to be the best option for you to use currently.
Maybe you’ll start with content marketing for traffic, but then need to move to PR as your business grows because PR does a better job at converting people to your email list.
You start by testing all the ways that you can market your business and see which one moves the metric you’re currently targeting. Next, try these two steps to really dial in your efforts:
Once you can say that two or three are doing the best job at hitting your goals, you focus on those few until you have a clear marketing tool that is performing best.
Once you have that single focus, take your other top items and get them to feed into your main one so that they work together.
Let’s look at this in practice for each type of metric focus.
Bullseye Marketing for Traffic
Photo by icon0.com
When we’re trying to generate traffic (awareness of our work) content is often king. That is writing content, or doing videos, that speak well to your target market.
That means you’re entering the world of content marketing.
Let’s assume that in your initial tests, blog content was indeed the best option for bringing more traffic to your site.
While building a full content marketing plan is outside the scope of this post, Liquid Web has lots of great resources to help you build a content marketing plan including a great beginner’s guide to content marketing.
Ultimately your goal is to be able to continuously produce content that drives views to your site.”
If that means starting with blog content, then maybe you’d use Facebook Ads to drive extra traffic to content that starts to catch on.
You may also add YouTube videos about parts of the same content (recycle content in different mediums to add value quickly) to entice people and drive them to your email list and site for more information.
Bullseye Marketing for Conversions
As you transition to focusing on conversions you may still keep your content as a key component, but focus more on any extras that can be provided with the content in exchange for an email address. You’ll need to ask yourself which traffic channels are converting best for what types of extra content.
Maybe Twitter does best if you present infographics, but Google Search yields lots of email subscriptions if you provide an email course to go with some content.
Again, your goal is to focus on your single metric and figure out exactly what type of offer or combination of offers takes the traffic you’ve built and turns it into more conversions. Often, that will come in the form of email subscribers.
Bullseye Marketing for Customers
Once you’ve moved to focusing on customers, you’re likely focusing on your email marketing sequences or the sales funnel on your site.
If you’re focused on your email marketing sequences, then you’ll need to look at A/B testing different headings and wording in your emails to see which ones get people to click to start becoming a customer.
In my business I did this with my initial client email as I worked to vet people in my client funnel so that I end up only working with people that are the best fit. In fact each and every email I send to prospects or former clients is timed and has been tested so that it has the best chance of finding the clients that are going to be my best fit.
If you’re focusing on your site based conversions, then you’re looking at A/B testing your checkout and every interaction that your prospects have on their way to becoming a customer.
Even if you’ve spent time on this before, looking back at every interaction every few months or once a year is what it will take to maximize your conversion of prospects into customers.
Starting Using Bullseye Marketing Today
If you can start now to figure out what your brand voice is, find your single metric that matters, and then focus your marketing on the best channels, you can build a sustainable pipeline of incoming leads.
With a bit of effort, you’ll be increasing the awareness that your market has of you and what you offer, bringing you more business.
Accelerate Your Digital Agency Growth
With a fully managed hosting service handling your web infrastructure, you can focus on getting more clients and improving your onboarding process.
The post Using the Bullseye Method to Market Your Business appeared first on Liquid Web.
When thinking about website performance, the most immediately visible factor for your site is speed.
That is to say that a website that loads slowly is not as well regarded as a website that loads more quickly.
However, all too often publishers of websites fail to recognize exactly how page speed impacts the user experience and, ultimately, how successful the website is in driving its mission forward.
Understanding how site speed and performance impact your website goes deeper than simply establishing that a faster website is better than a slower website.
How does the user feel?
What is happening at the server level?
How is the owner of the site or the publisher affected?
In this article we will dig into the consequences and ramifications of a slow website and how you can turn site speed into a competitive advantage.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for more tips on how to optimize your website.
Site Performance and the User Experience
The first way that site performance impacts the user experience comes when site visitors are simply trying to access your content in the first place.
With more and more competition for ever-shrinking attention spans, there is simply no margin for error when it comes to site performance.
Research shows that internet users expect websites to load in less than three seconds.
Slower than that and traffic declines at an alarming rate.
Imagine for a moment what that means: a human came to your website looking for information or a product to purchase and left before they got what they were looking for.
For all the effort you put in to attracting visitors in the first place this possibility should be downright terrifying. A slow-loading, poor-performing website means that visitors are abandoning the site itself not because your design or content are unappealing but rather because your website is too slow.
Furthermore, more than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices on connections that are slower than those available to desktop and laptop computers.
With the stakes so high, site speed and performance has never been more important.
Site Performance and the Customer Experience
The second way site performance impacts visitors comes when those visitors are actually potential customers. When the experience of shopping online is slow and clunky, it is incumbent on store owners to recognize that customers have a wide range of choices online.
If your eCommerce site it slow, if pages don’t load quickly, or if shopping carts and checkout processes do not move quickly, then customers will simply leave your website and go somewhere else.”
If you own and operate an online store it is imperative that you optimize site performance not just while visitors are browsing product pages but also when they choose something to purchase and try to complete that transaction.
If the purchasing experience is slow and clunky then potential customers will leave and likely never return.
Site Performance and Technology
One of the oft-overlooked aspects of site performance is the effect of performance on Search Engine rankings.
Believe it or not, search engines like Google factor site speed into their ranking algorithms.
Slower sites are penalized in search results while faster sites are rewarded.
When you step back and think about it, this practice makes sense. Search engines exist to provide the best possible answer to the user’s search query. Part of the “best” answer is the one that presents itself quickly and completely.
In other words, if every time you clicked a search result from Google or Bing the resulting page took 5 or 10 seconds to load, you would be disappointed and maybe even aggravated. Over time, you might even choose to use a different search engine to locate information entirely.
Speed is a critical part of succeeding with search engines and neglecting performance while trying to achieve higher search engine rankings is a fool’s errand.
Site Performance and Your Brand
The impact of site speed and performance listed above are reason enough to pay attention to how quickly your web pages are loading and how quickly your shopping cart is operating. But even if that were not the case, you should understand and appreciate the impact of site performance on the perception of your brand.
Whether operating a business website or a site for your personal hobby or interests, you want to put your best foot forward. It isn’t putting your best foot forward to offer visitors a website that is slow and faces challenges in loading all elements, images, and content.
Think about your brand in another way.
Imagine you choose to visit a car dealership with interest in buying a car. And suppose the salesperson you are speaking to says, “Thank you for stopping by…take a look, here is our best car!” And when you look at where they are pointing, you see a car that barely rolls straight, sounds awful, and is in dire need of a new paint job.
That’s the impression visitors are left with when your website is slow and performs poorly.
Website performance is a reflection of your brand, and a slow website that frustrates users will give them a negative perception of you.
An Entire World Dependent on Performance
When you take all of the factors listed above into account, it should be clear that site speed and performance are not only important; they are crucial to your website’s success. Whether you are simply sharing your personal thoughts on a blog or promoting your business and selling goods online, site performance has never been more important.
Savvy site owners and publishers are vigilant in looking for ways to improve site performance. Be one of them.
Take Our Free Seven Point Inspection
To better understand the performance of your website and the impact that performance is having on your mission, we invite you to take advantage of Liquid Web’s Seven Point Inspection.
Our free inspection provides details around where your site is working optimally and where you can stand some assistance. From there, our experienced hosting consultants can make suggestions and recommendations for getting the most out of your digital presence.
The post How Important is Website Speed and Performance? appeared first on Liquid Web.
As most of our affiliate partners are aware, planning two months (or more) ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is key to a successful end of year.
In Q3, to help our affiliates fill their calendar with content we pitted our affiliate partners against each other in a friendly contest to see who could create the most engaging, enlightening, invoking, and amazing article about why WooCommerce is great for eCommerce stores.
The Prize: Winners were awarded with some cash bonuses—but more importantly—bragging rights as Q3 Affiliate Contest Winners.
We received a great amount of participation among our affiliate partners and we were really excited to read all of the articles. We have some really amazing affiliate partners (humble brag)!
Each piece submitted was judged based on the content’s overall quality, length, design, and accuracy of information.
Without further ado, here are the affiliate partner winning and runner up articles.
Fall 2019 Affiliate Contest Winner: GrowthHacking.Africa
What did we love about it?
It highlights the true reality about choosing infrastructure over design. “The lucky [stores] that survive soon realize a successful online store is beyond a sleek user interface and a highly sought product – though very important, the infrastructure on which they run played an equal role to their success.”
Anyone can launch a store on a $5 website, but when your store grows, the infrastructure behind it is what truly matters.
We also liked that the article included some real-life “tweetable moments”.
Read the rest: https://growthhacking.africa/what-makes-woocommerce-on-liquid-web-great-for-ecommerce-stores/
The article was written by Joshua Okapes. Follow Joshua on Twitter @JOkapes
Fall 2019 Contest Runner-Up: WebHostingCat.com
What did we love about it?
Again, infrastructure is really important, so we like the fact that they mentioned the importance of performance testing. “A second or two here or there can mean the difference between someone purchasing your products or going somewhere else. And, we know that Google is looking at website speed, so you definitely want a faster running website for search engine performance as well. As I mentioned above, WooCommerce out of the box isn’t necessarily the fastest platform. However, Liquid Web has more than taken care of any speed issues.”
Read the rest: https://webhostingcat.com/why-you-need-liquid-web-managed-woocommerce-hosting/
The article was written by Michael James. Follow Michael on Twitter @WebHostingCat
Fall 2019 Contest Third Place: rswebsols.com
What did we love about it?
RS Websols did a really great job highlighting the different Woocommerce plan offerings and giving further details by providing a Q&A. Similar to the two posts above, speed is key. “The WooCommerce plugin simply turns your WordPress website into an eCommerce store, however, Managed WooCommerce Hosting transforms it into a hassle-free, full-featured eCommerce platform which will not only increase the speed of your WooCommerce store but will also enhance its functionality and consistency.”
Read more: https://www.rswebsols.com/reviews/web-hosting-reviews/liquid-web-managed-woocommerce-hosting
The article was written by Souvik Banerjee. Follow Souvik on Twitter @rswebsols
We really appreciate the amazing interest we had in the contest and really enjoyed reading all the great articles. A big thanks to everyone that entered and participated.
We really do have the best affiliate partners.
Don’t forget to subscribe to The Liquid Web Blog for more news from our affiliates, or sign up for the affiliate newsletter to compete in the next event!
The post Q3 Affiliate Partner Contest Winners appeared first on Liquid Web.
Ransomware attacks are real and dangerous.
The CryptoLocker ransomware attack remains, alongside Petya and WannaCry, one of the most prolific large-scale attacks in malware history, designed specifically for Windows operating systems.
Cybersecurity specialists say the first CryptoLocker attack took place on September 5, 2013, yet the ransomware crippled about 500,000 Microsoft Windows computers at a rampant infection rate until it was contained in May 2014 following Operation Tovar.
But where do ransomware attacks originate and how do they work?
How Ransomware Usually Operates
Ransomware infections usually start with drive-by downloading or phishing campaigns: a suspicious email from an unknown source that manipulates the user through social engineering techniques to click on a link or download an infected attachment.
In recent years, hackers have developed sophisticated scams with copycat emails and templates, making it often hard even for the most tech-savvy to detect a phishing attempt.
All it takes is for an individual to click on the link in the body of the email or download the attachment.”
Upon infection, the malicious software encrypts all data and rapidly spreads in the entire infrastructure. Immediately an alert will appear on the screen informing the victim that the system is encrypted, and a bitcoin ransom must be paid to retrieve a decryption key.
While many companies naively expect immediate payment will regain them access to files, hackers are unlikely to release encryption keys and the data is lost.
Liquid Web’s blog is full of useful tips on how to secure your infrastructure. Subscribe now to get the latest right into your inbox.
In some cases, a signature-based detection security software with malicious behavior monitoring could detect and remove the ransomware, but the data is lost regardless. If ransomware hits, data backups are critical for all businesses, because most likely the data will never be retrieved and it will be impossible to restore the system without formatting it.
How Does CryptoLocker Work?
CryptoLocker is a highly sophisticated malware strain but it can’t self-replicate, so hackers distributed the malware through a Trojan that replicated through infected email attachments and through the Gameover Zeus, (a peer-to-peer botnet built on ZeusTrojan). Gameover Zeus banking malware was allegedly responsible for over one million computer infections, according to FBI investigations.
The emails appeared to be sent by a legitimate, reputable company and the attachments were ZIP files disguised as PDFs.
Companies could be anything, such as online retailers, social media platforms, financial institutions, or shipping companies that allegedly sent an invoice, order tracking, or confirmation email. In some cases, CryptoLocker also was delivered through compromised plug-ins downloaded from suspicious websites.
Once the payload was activated, CryptoLocker encrypted absolutely all hard drive data, including any information on devices connected to the infected machine, such as USB sticks, cloud-synced folders such as DropBox, and even company servers.”
The malicious software tried to communicate with command and control servers, took over the user profile (documents and settings folder) and scanned the system for files such as spreadsheets, documents and AutoCAD design files stored on local and mounted network drives.
Then it encrypted them with RSA public key cryptography, also known as asymmetric encryption. Public key cryptography is complex because it involves key pairs. It encrypts the files with the public key, and then creates a private key that decrypts them. Nobody but the hackers can access the decryption key.
As it happens with any ransomware infection, after the system was encrypted, CryptoLocker victims were given between 72 and 100 hours to send a pre-paid cash voucher (MoneyPak) worth $400 or €400, or its equivalent in bitcoin.
Ransomware is an incredibly profitable business. Industry sources claim CryptoLocker put some $30 million in the author’s pocket, in just 100 days in the wild.
What You Can Do To Reduce Ransomware Infection Risks
The problem with CryptoLocker is that it was too sophisticated to have a backdoor, so it’s best to be cautious now that CryptoLocker-derived variants are out there.
Security researchers absolutely do not recommend giving in to this kind of extortion, as there may be other strategies to regain system access without paying ransom.
Here are some tips on how to reduce infection risks:
Did you receive an email from an unknown or unsolicited source?
If you have no idea what the email is about or who the sender is, don’t click on the links in the body and don’t download any attachments. Recent ransomware campaigns against enterprises have been targeting departments such as HR, accounting and logistics.
Train staff members and customers about online security risks and how to detect a phishing attempt.
CryptoLocker ransomware also spread through a botnet, not just a Trojan hidden in an email. In this case, there is not much you can do because it means you already have other malware in the system which only made it easier to get a double dose of malicious software.
The CryptoLocker ransomware attack reinforces the importance of data backups.
Keep regular and updated backups of important data and store it in multiple sources, including offline, to recover the information and restore the system if your network is infected with ransomware.
Restrict employee access to critical files and systems to reduce malware exposure in case of infection.
Run regular software and firmware updates, as well as security patches of known vulnerable browser plugins such as Adobe Flash and Java, to reduce network vulnerabilities that could expose the network to malware infections.
If you do see a message on your computer screen that you have fallen victim to ransomware, it’s important to remain calm and investigate the type of ransomware you’ve been exposed to.
In some cases, it might just be scareware or a screen locker, so you can still access your files.
If you care not able to access your files, you were probably hit by file-encrypting ransomware which cannot be ignored or removed by closing the message. To get rid of encrypting ransomware, try disconnecting the infected device from the internet to prevent the ransomware from spreading, and use a robust security solution to clean up your device and remove it.
You can also reinstall your operating system. No matter which method is chosen, it is important to know that removing the ransomware means losing the files that were encrypted.
Big industry names have released decryptors that can be found on their websites, and you can always check if a decryptor is available, provided you know the type of ransomware you are dealing with.
Install an updated security solution to protect your infrastructure. Companies can choose server protection packages that include routine scans for susceptible points, hardened server configurations, antivirus, and malware cleanup and remediation.
Stay Secure With Liquid Web
Prepare for the worst with security solutions from Liquid Web, including storage and backup services, security and data protection, and more.
For October Cybersecurity Awareness month, we prepared some video tips you can share with your team.
The post A Deep Dive into CryptoLocker Ransomware Malware and How to Protect Yourself appeared first on Liquid Web.
Is your agency plagued with clients that go unresponsive?
From the client missing a deadline to third-party integration issues, there are all sorts of reasons a digital agency may run into project delays. But there is one above all others that drives agencies crazy more than any other—an unresponsive client.
If you’ve been selling web design or development services for any length of time, you likely have had a client disappear and go MIA in the middle of a project, leaving you wondering what the heck is going on and stuck where you’re at unable to move the project forward.
You likely have reached out by email and by phone multiple times and have received no response and are growing more frustrated with the disrespect and lack of regard for your time as each new day passes.
Unresponsive clients are the most challenging clients because there isn’t a conflict to resolve or problem to solve, there’s just a missing client and no information as to why—and without the proper provisions in your website contract, your digital agency doesn’t have a clear path of action to deal with the missing client.
Instead, you’re left holding the bag and waiting for them to show again. Don’t let that be you!
Instead, be sure to include termination clauses in your website contract that dictate exactly how your digital agency will handle a client if they become unresponsive and how the client will be impacted.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more content for growing agencies sent straight to your inbox.
In addition to the normal cancellation clause that enables you or your client to cancel the project at any time with 30 days notice and the payment of applicable fees, there are three termination clauses to consider including in your web design contract:
A dormancy clause addresses what happens if or when a project falls dormant because the client disappears. It outlines the amount of time or grace period given to an unresponsive client, what will happen if a client disappears for a specific amount of time with no communication, and what is required of the client when they finally do show up again.
Here is a sample dormancy clause:
We understand that sometimes life happens and you may need to pause work on your project. That is completely acceptable if we are notified and made aware of your situation in advance. If your project goes more than 30 days without any forward progress or significant activity from your end, and no prior arrangements have been made with us and agreed to, your project will be put on hold and all associated files will be archived. Once your project has been archived, a $500.00 re-activation fee is required to restart your project and your project will be scheduled into our current workflow where space is available.”
The cancellation clause takes the dormancy clause a step further, outlining exactly what happens if the project reaches the dormancy deadline, is archived, and the client remains MIA for a set amount of time.
Here is a sample cancellation clause:
If your project remains inactive for an additional 15 days past the 30 day dormancy period (45 days total) with no significant forward progress made, milestones reached, or prior arrangement in place, our engagement will expire, no refunds will be available, and you will forfeit all deliverables associated with this client agreement. Basically, if you disappear for 45 days, or delay the project with no forward movement and no communication for 45 days, this contract will be canceled and no refunds will be given.”
A completely separate situation that can create problems for digital agencies are the clients who disappear and show up, then disappear and show up, and continually delay the project without making any significant progress.
This usually happens when it’s time for the client to provide the final website content because the website is either not done yet or they haven’t started, they’re embarrassed, and they don’t want to admit it.
This also happens at the end of a project when the final payment is due and they don’t have the funds to make the payment.
Without the proper clause in your contract, you risk being held hostage by the client—and even though you’re unable to complete the project, it’s still on your project list, in your development account, and requiring your attention to care for and maintain.
With this in mind, consider designating an expiration date at which the contract will automatically terminate.
While this type of clause is often used in retainer contracts for ongoing design and development, where a contract may expire after 12 months with an option to renew, you can also use this clause to put a limit on how long a project can sit once specific milestones are met.
Here is a sample expiration clause:
Once the theme design and development has been completed, you have up to 90 days to work with our team to take the final approved website live. After 90 days, this contract will expire. At this time, you can renew your contract for the flat fee of $X to finish the project or choose to receive a zip file of your completed website.”
What To Do When A Client Goes MIA
Even with the proper contract clauses in place, your digital agency is still going to run into clients who disappear in the middle of a project. If this happens and you plan on enforcing your contract terms, it is critical that you take every action possible to re-engage the client and keep the project moving forward—and that you document every proactive step you take.
Using the sample dormancy and cancellation clauses outlined above, here’s a sample outline of what you need to do—remember to screenshot or print every email sent and document every phone call made:
At week one with no response: Send the client an email reminding them that it’s now been a week since you heard from them last and you’re waiting on them to move forward. Ask them to respond.
At week two with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. If the client is local and has a place of business, stop in for a visit to see what’s going on.
At week three with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. If the client is local and has a place of business, stop in for a visit to see what’s going on. If you’re connected on social media, consider reaching out via private message. Remind the client of the dormancy clause in their contract and copy and paste the clause into the email for their reference. Communicate that you’re reaching out because you want to help them avoid reaching dormancy.
At 25 days with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. Remind the client of the dormancy clause in their contract and copy and paste the clause into the email for their reference. Let them know the deadline is in five days. Again, communicate that you’re reaching out because you want to help them avoid reaching dormancy and the reactivation fee.
At 30 days with no response: Draft an official letter on company letterhead notifying the client that their project has reached dormancy and what the implications are. Send the letter to the client by US Postal Service and by email. Consider calling the client to alert them of the change in project status as well.
At 42 days with no response: Check-in by email and by phone, being sure to leave a voicemail message. Remind the client of the cancellation clause in their contract and copy and paste the clause into the email for their reference. Let them know the deadline is in three days. Again, communicate that you’re reaching out because you want to help them avoid reaching cancellation and losing out on the investment made in the project so far.
At 45 days with no response: Draft an official letter on company letterhead notifying the client that their project has reached cancellation due to dormancy and what the implications are. Send the letter to the client by US Postal Service and by email.
The Bottom Line
When dealing with an unresponsive client, the goal of your digital agency should always be to re-engage the client, keep the project moving forward, and finish it off strong. Regular check-ins by phone and email, positive reminders of the contract clauses, and offers of support should do the trick, but if not, you can be confident in your actions with solid dormancy, cancellation, and expiration clauses in your contracts to fall back on.
The post Three Ways To Handle An Unresponsive Client appeared first on Liquid Web.
Liquid Web’s Marketing & Web Operations Manager on traveling her own path, her greatest influences, and keeping energy flowing.
“Don’t let others create your story for you,” says Remington. “You have to be willing to make your life your own.”
Give her a travel guide and self-help book and Nikki Remington is happy. “Two of my favorite books are The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck,” she says.
These seem a good balance for the avid traveler— one is about streamlining your physical space, while the other is about getting rid of mental clutter that doesn’t serve you.
The two combined seem to evoke Remington’s attitude towards life: get it done, and do it on your own terms. “Don’t let others create your story for you. You have to be willing to make your life your own,” says Remington. “You never know when life will take twists and turns. But if you are genuinely working on yourself all the time, the hard times seem more like challenges and less like roadblocks.”
Remington’s life has its share of literal twists and turns, as well. She is rarely home on the weekends, known for just going— hopping in her car to drive, listening to music, and stopping to take photographs and explore beaches. She is from Okemos, a town outside of Lansing, Michigan. Though she loves to travel, Michigan is her home. She’s especially excited by the tech opportunities growing in the state on a daily basis.
Remington first joined the world of tech in 2008 as an Advertising Specialist for a software company’s marketing team, where she quickly discovered her passion for marketing and analytics. “I was one of those people that would go home and keep working not because I had to, but because I genuinely loved it,” she says. “I just wanted to keep learning and testing new ideas.” This work ethic was an early illustration of Remington’s desire to constantly explore and learn.
Remington has spent her career finding her passions, developing them, and sharing them. In 2013, she was featured on the Google Analytics homepage and was given the opportunity to share her passion for Marketing Analytics and advertising. “Over the years, I have partnered with Google to create case studies and learn from some of the best in the industry,” she says. “Granted over the two years it was on their homepage, we all got a little tired of seeing my face when you logged in, but it was fun!”
Early in her career, Remington worked for an online real estate marketing company. One day, the CEO called her in to offer her a promotion in management. His explanation as to why he chose her for the role has always stuck with her. “He said there are two types of people— battery chargers and battery drainers. Leaders need to be battery chargers. They keep energy flowing and help their teams see the positive in their work. From that day on, I have really tried to focus on bringing energy as much as possible.”
Remington now brings that energy to Liquid Web where she serves as the Marketing & Web Operations Manager, a role she has held for over three years. “I love tech because it’s always changing! The space is constantly growing and evolving, so you can’t get complacent. It keeps you on your toes,” she says.
The important personal and professional influences in her life have been plentiful, but none so important as her 14-year-old daughter. “We are a little duo,” she says. “My daughter has unknowingly pushed me to be a better person— a better mom, coworker, manager, and marketer. I try to set a great example for her and show her what it means to work hard, play hard, and stay balanced.”
Remington encourages those just starting out in technology to take risks. “You don’t want to look back someday and realize you played it too safe,” she says. Her other rules of thumb are to believe in yourself and listen to others, believe in the integrity of what you have to say and also listen with an open mind to those around you.
True to her traveling spirit, Remington believes that encouraging young thinkers and doers to enter the tech field is about showing people what’s out there, the true breadth of the field. It’s about discovery and exploration. “I have a 14-year-old and I try to give her exposure as much as possible to different roles, different tools, and technology as a whole,” she says. “Being in the tech space doesn’t mean you just ‘work with computers’ and sit at a desk all day. There are so many options available and different roads to travel in this space. So explore!”
The post Women in Technology: Nikki Remington appeared first on Liquid Web.
Our new customer portal features a mobile-friendly design, new navigation interfact, and relevant content only a fingertip away.
Liquid Web is committed to ensuring that every one of our customers has a great interaction with our customer portal and we are excited to announce the launch of my.liquidweb.com on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019.
We have fully rebuilt the portal to feature a new, sleek design. This redesign is not only easy on the eye but reworks the navigation to be much easier to use. We are really excited about these upgrades because they were made with direct input from many customers’ points of view.
This launch is a beta release, with about 70 percent functionality of the current portal. We will continue to add functionality as time goes on, but we didn’t want to hold something back this good for too long! The current portal will also remain online so that you can easily switch back and forth between the old view to the new view.
Some updates you can expect to find:
Mobile-First Design – Same great experience on tablet or mobile phone!
Active Incidents and the Latest News on the Login Page
Topical Help Articles on Every Page
List of Recommended Actions so You Can Get to the Place You Need Fast
View of Open Support Tickets From the Home Page
New Invoice – Simpler and Much Easier to Read and Understand
The new portal has improved navigation and has more relevant content readily available.
Mobile-first view makes it easy to manage your server and account from your phone or tablet.
The new my.liquidweb.com portal will be available to all our Hosting and Cloud Sites customers on October 30th, 2019. Customers can access the newly improved portal either by directly going to my.liquidweb.com starting on October 30th, 2019, or logging in normally and clicking the My Liquid Web Beta button. Managed Application customers can request access to the Beta via ticket.
As always, the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting™ are standing by for any questions you may have. Reach out to us by phone, chat, or ticket. We are here to help!
The post Introducing Your New and Improved Customer Portal appeared first on Liquid Web.
We give the exact steps and preparations you need to make to complete a migration from cPanel to Interworx, Liquid Web’s newest control panel.
InterWorx is poised to be a game changer for cPanel users.
With good feature parity and a non-scaling license cost, SMB customers who do not use the edge case features of cPanel can potentially save money by switching to InterWorx.
Additionally, InterWorx has an import feature that will take backups from cPanel servers and restore them as valid InterWorx accounts, making migrations to the platform simpler.
This article will show you how to prepare for an easy migration, and final testing, to Interworx.
Even though the core features are similar, there are some potential blockers that could prevent clean import of cPanel accounts.
Most importantly, database prefixing is required in InterWorx, as this is the mechanism used to map databases to accounts inside of the control panel. Most cPanel databases should already have username prefixing, but some may not, depending on when they were created.
Additionally, because of a difference in mail software, single character mailboxes are not permitted (though single character aliases are).
Further, though the panel supports multiple concurrent PHP versions for different accounts and domains, the oldest available PHP version is currently 5.4, so sites utilizing older versions may need to upgrade their code in order to function well using InterWorx.
Preparing Your cPanel Accounts
In order to restore cleanly into InterWorx, any issues discovered as listed above will need to be addressed.
The database naming will be one of the most important, and can be accomplished using WHM’s ‘Manage Databases’ and ‘Manage Database Users’ features (found under ‘SQL Services’).
Databases and their users can be renamed here, but any configuration files that connect to these databases will need to be altered to use the new names.
For instance, let’s say we have an account called ‘maria’ which uses WordPress. Because database prefixing is disabled in our WHM install, it’s database is ‘wp29’ and the user is ‘wpuser’. Using the Manage Databases tool, the database will need to be renamed to ‘maria_wp29’, and using Manage Database Users, the user will need to change to ‘maria_wpuser’. Then, in the wp-config.php file for maria, which would be at /home/maria/public_html/wp-config.php, the DB_NAME and DB_USER will need to be updated to the proper new values.
This rename can also be accomplished through the command line using whmapi1’s rename_mysql_database and rename_mysql_user tools.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter and get more content on infrastructure optimization sent to your inbox weekly.
Packaging Your cPanel Accounts
Once any potential restoration conflicts have been taken care of, cPanel accounts can be packaged for transfer. This is best accomplished through the command line pkgacct tool, by passing the username of the account you wish to copy. These packages are full backups of individual cPanel accounts, and you should make sure you have enough free disk space to store such a backup for each account you will be copying.
In our example, we will package the user ‘maria’:
/scripts/pkgacct maria /home/
This should place a file called cpmove-maria.tar.gz into your /home/ directory on the cPanel server. Repeat this procedure for each account on your server you wish to migrate to InterWorx.
Once you have all of the packages you need, they can be copied to your InterWorx server. Log into the InterWorx machine as root and run this command to copy the packaged accounts from your cPanel server (assuming IP address 184.108.40.206):
scp 220.127.116.11:/home/cpmove-*.tar.gz /home/
This will log into the cPanel machine, grab all of the cpmove files we made before, and put them in /home/ on the new server.
Restoring Your cPanel Accounts
Now that we have all of the cPanel data in packages on the new machine, we will start restoring them to create hosting accounts in InterWorx.
Here is how the command will look:
/usr/local/interworx/bin/import.pex --control-panel cpanel --ipv4 18.104.22.168 --archive /home/cpmove-maria.tar.gz | tee -a /home/maria.import.log
It’s a bit of a longer command, so let’s break it down.
First, there is the command itself, which is import.pex.
This is the InterWorx account import script, which will actually accept backups from a few different control panel types. This is why we have to declare the control panel source in the next flag, which in this case is cPanel.
Next, the script has to know what IP we want to restore the domains to, which is 22.214.171.124 in our example. This should be a shared IP on the InterWorx server if you are restoring multiple accounts.
Finally, we want to give the restore script the path to our cPanel backup file, which is /home/cpmove-maria.tar.gz for the ‘maria’ user.
After all of that, there is a ‘pipe’, which puts the output of the import.pex command into another command we can use to create a log file. In this case, the command is ‘tee’, which will duplicate the output, put one of the copies onto your screen, and another copy into /home/maria.import.log. This way, once the restore is done, you can still reference the output at that file, in case you need to review any errors.
The full command will extract the file that we passed, use its cPanel logic to restore all of the domains, email accounts, SSLs, databases, database users, and so on contained within, and then start hosting that (those) domain(s) on the IP address we specified.
Testing Your Sites
After the import command completes, you’ll be able to test the sites on the new server using your favorite testing method. Mine is hosts file editing, which you can read about more at our Knowledge Base article. This is a much more accurate method than most other available options.
Generally, you would create a line like this for each of your domains:
126.96.36.199 marias-website.com www.marias-website.com
…and then add that line to the end of the hosts file on your workstation or computer.
Then, you should be able to test the site by browsing to it, without having to affect public DNS or use a less accurate proxy service.
Check out the link above for more detailed instructions for your OS.
While testing the new server, generally you want to be sure that sites load and aren’t missing any elements or giving any errors.
If you do find some errors, the global apache and php logs are located at /etc/httpd/logs/, which can give you more details on what the problem might be. There are separate logs for https traffic (ssl_error_log) and non-https traffic (error_log).
Additionally, every domain can write to its own local error log. These are stored at /home/maria/var/marias-website.com/logs/error.log for our sample account. These logs are combined for https and non-https traffic.
You are also free to reach out to our support team with any issues or questions you might have, 24/7.
To shift traffic from the old cPanel server to your new InterWorx server, all that is needed is a DNS update of all of the records that are referencing the old machine.
In most cases, there is a single A record that points to the IP address of the source server (188.8.131.52 in our example) which will need to be altered to the new IP (184.108.40.206).
Before we can change any records, you will need to discover where your DNS is hosted. There are many possibilities, but I’ll highlight a few of the common ones.
First, you might use Liquid Web’s shared nameservers, in which case you can update DNS through manage.liquidweb.com under the Domains > DNS tab. You might also use some 3rd party nameservers, such as at your registrar or at CloudFlare. In that case, you would do the same thing, except through their interface: log in, locate the DNS zonefile for the domain, and then change all of the IPs to the new one.
The final common possibility is that you have DNS hosted on the source cPanel server itself, with custom nameservers. While the main process of logging into WHM and changing the zonefile is similar, you will also need to affect the Nameserver Glue records at your nameserver’s main domain’s registrar. Otherwise, DNS will continue to be hosted by the cPanel server even after the new server goes live, and terminating the old server would cause your sites to go down. The process varies depending on where you registered your nameservers, but every registrar should be able to help you make glue record changes, so that the InterWorx server can start hosting DNS for you.
And, that’s it! After A records are updated, traffic should start flowing to the new server, completing your migration.
Looking for a VPS with InterWorx pre-installed and ready to go? Try our Liquid Web VPS packages or chat with a specialist today!
The post How to Migrate from cPanel to Interworx appeared first on Liquid Web.
A small business shipping policy is key for eCommerce success, but often overlooked. See tips for creating your own, and examples from industry leaders.
Shipping and return policies are vital to the bottom line of an eCommerce business.
Many eCommerce stores create their small business shipping and return policies the way people sign their names after a credit card purchase — without much thought (and pretty much just because they have to).
Not only do they impact purchasing decisions on the customer side of things, they also have a ripple effect on your inventory and supply chain management. And the effect of a good (or bad) policy is often overlooked.
That’s why we’re sharing all the details for why all eCommerce businesses need a successful shipping and return policy and how to create one for your store.
Why You Need a Clear Small Business Shipping Policy
Shipping for small businesses should not be treated as an afterthought. There are three major reasons you need a shipping and return policy that’s clear and easy to find.
1. Your Customers Are Looking for It
You might think that customers don’t want to read this boring section on your website, but the opposite is actually true. Customers shopping online care a lot about shipping and return policies, and they’re likely to seek out yours.
According to the National Retail Federation, as much as 65% of customers actually look up a store’s shipping policy before adding anything to their cart.
2. Bad Shipping Policies Are a Culprit for Cart Abandonment
The dreaded phenomenon of customers leaving a store without following through on buying their cart items happens at a rate of about 75%.
Two of the most common reasons for cart abandonment are related to shipping and returns: Either there’s no clear option for express shipping or the return policy is deemed “unsatisfactory.”
3. A Good Shipping Policy Saves You and Your Customers Time
When a customer can’t find your shipping policy, your policy is hard to understand, or it just doesn’t give enough information, two things can happen: The customer can leave your store, or they can contact your company to get answers.
While the second option is definitely preferable, it means that your team will be spending a lot of time fielding question after question about shipping and returns. That’s time they could be spending on more profit-driven activities.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more ways to increase profitability for your store.
How to Write a Great Shipping Policy
You could resort to a small business shipping policy generator or download a generic shipping policy template that’ll cover your bases. But, if you’re here, you probably want to write a great policy, which requires more thought and effort.
Here’s what you can do to write a great shipping and return policy.
Prioritize Customer Service When Creating Your Policies
When it comes to creating the “meat” of your policy (i.e., what’s allowed and what’s not), it’s best to think of your customers first and the bottom line second.
You’ve heard that it costs five times as much to obtain a new customer than to keep an existing one, right? One of the best ways to keep customers who are already buying from you is to have as generous a shipping and return policy as you can. Of course, you still want to make sure your policy makes financial sense.
Look for Ways to Do Better Than Your Competition
Just like any aspect of running your business, you should be aware of how your competitors are handling shipping and returns. From there, look for ways that you could improve on what they’re offering.
This doesn’t have to mean offering a more generous shipping and return policy (though it could). It may mean just communicating the policy better, making it easier to find, or going above and beyond with the information provided.
Consider the Questions You Have About Shipping and Returns When Buying Online
You’ve bought things online before — probably plenty of times. So when you sit down to create your shipping and return policy, go back to the moment when you were shopping at an eCommerce store, and remember what doubts and questions you had.
Likely, your customers will have similar questions for your store. At the very least, you probably wondered:
If you could return the item if you didn’t like it
When your item would arrive
If you’d get shipping updates
Who would be delivering it
Make sure you answer all the questions in your own policy.
Write a Clear Small Business Shipping Policy in Your Brand Voice
If your shipping and return policy sounds like a lawyer wrote it, your customers will, at best, be a little frustrated trying to understand it. At worst, they’ll find it disingenuous or scary.
It’s not a bad idea to have a lawyer review your policy before publishing, just to make sure there aren’t any loopholes. However, it should still read like the rest of your website content, and be written conversationally and in your brand voice.
The 5 Signs of an Amazing Shipping and Return Policy
Do you have a shipping and return policy already? Make sure it meets the following criteria.
1. It’s Easy to Find
Don’t hide your shipping and return policy from customers. Put it where they’ll expect to find it. Usually, that’s in your website footer (like in the example below from The Yoga Warehouse). Bonus points if you include it at checkout or on product pages as well.
2. It’s Easy to Read and Understand
Keep language simple, sentences short, and the information organized. Great policies are visually designed to be skimmable. That might look like putting the information in a table, using headings and subheadings, or a FAQ format.
3. It Sets Clear Expectations
Because small stores don’t have the credibility of huge brands, shipping for small businesses is extra important to get right. Preemptively answer any questions your customers may have so there are no gray areas.
Common Questions to Answer in Your Shipping Policy
Where do you ship?
Do you ship internationally?
How long does it take for items to arrive?
How much is shipping?
Do you offer free shipping?
Can you combine shipping on more than one item?
Do you put receipts/invoices in the package?
Common Questions to Answer in Return Policy
Do items need to be returned in the original packaging?
Who is responsible for paying the S&H?
How many days from delivery can items be returned?
What happens if items arrive damaged?
4. It’s On-Brand
Don’t miss the opportunity to infuse your policies with your brand voice. This is a great way to build more trust with your customers. The policies will feel familiar to customers rather than like scary legalese. Also, customers recognize that you put time into crafting the policies — and believe you care about their experience.
5. It’s Actionable and Honest
Make sure that whatever you write in your shipping and return policy, you’re able to follow through on it every time. Otherwise, word will start to spread that your store is not trustworthy.
Admirable Shipping Policy Examples From Small eCommerce Businesses
If you’re still stuck finding the right words or format for your shipping and return policy, we’ve shortlisted the 4 shipping policy examples we love for inspiration.
Here’s what this artist-designed stationery brand does right:
They introduce their shipping page with a special, on-brand tagline: “Great design delivered right to your doorstep.”
They provide easy-to-find tabs for “U.S.” and “International” shipping since that information is different.
They include different shipping costs for different sized items — with clear labels.
They spell out how their products are packaged because some items are fragile.
They explicitly mention that no invoice or pricing is included in the package because it might be a gift.
2. Dearborn Denim & Apparel
This American-made denim company also does a few things right:
They offer a reminder of the company’s main value proposition that their clothing is crafted by a small team of experts: “Your order ships directly from our sewing floor, not a dropshipper or warehouse.”
They use humanizing language to address concerns: “Some orders may be delayed due to a temporary shortage of a specific style or size. Rest assured we will be working hard to get those items through production and on their way to you as fast as possible.”
3. Will’s Vegan Store
A vegan shoe and clothing company in the U.K., this store has an excellent shipping policy:
They arrange their three shipping options in an easy-to-read table.
They include the dates packages would be expected to arrive, depending on the shipping type (instead of just saying 2 to 3 weeks). This way, the customer doesn’t have to do the math on their own.
They use an interactive drop-down menu to make it easy to change the ship-to country for accurate details.
They make sure to highlight their environmentally friendly mission in their shipping policy: “All our shipping & returns are Carbon Neutral and plastic free. We do not use plastic bags or plastic packaging. All the materials in our deliveries are environmentally friendly, sustainable, and can be recycled.”
4. Heart Coffee Roasters
This eCommerce coffee bean company does one big thing to make their shipping and return policy customer-focused:
They organize their entire policy into FAQs with detailed explanations for why their policy is as it is. This means they can share a ton of information without it being daunting for customers.
Don’t Assume a Shipping Policy for Small Business Isn’t Important
Hands down, the biggest mistake eCommerce companies make when creating a shipping and return policy is not treating it as important.
Instead, they craft a policy or download a shipping policy template simply to have one without putting their own spin on it or considering the customer journey. These basic policies won’t delight customers or build trust with your brand, and they’re likely to lead to higher cart abandonment rates.
So if you haven’t already, make sprucing up your shipping and return policy a priority for this quarter. Hopefully, you’ve found plenty of inspiration in this article to make the job a bit easier.
Learn How to Generate +1,000,000 on Your Store
The post How to Write a Small Business Shipping Policy appeared first on Liquid Web.
More people view websites on mobile devices than desktop computers. Learn what to consider when designing your website mobile experience.
Responsive design has become the new normal.
When building a new website or redesigning an existing site – especially now that mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage on a global scale – the new site has to be mobile first.
As business owners better understand the visual Instagram generation, and retailers realize more and more eCommerce purchases are happening on smartphones, they are investing in responsive, mobile first approaches to design.
The problem is that creating a responsive website is no longer enough.
To compete in today’s media-centric, information-abundant, over-crowded, always-on digital landscape, brands must move past the basics of responsive design to craft beautiful, simple, and easy to use website mobile experiences.”
That means designing specific, well-thought-out website mobile experiences that consider even the tiniest of details.
Creating a Website Mobile Experience
Here are ten things to consider when designing your website mobile experience:
The person your logo means the most to is you.
No one cares about your logo as much as you do and it isn’t going to convince someone to pay you on its own.
In 99% of all cases, the logo never needs to be bigger. Instead, consider displaying your logo at the smallest size possible while retaining legibility so visitors can get to the content faster.
Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter for more ideas on how to make your WordPress site experience even better.
2. Navigation Menu
Before you stake your navigation design on the hamburger menu icon, consider whether your audience knows what it is—it could work better to use a button labeled “menu.”
Also think about what happens when the navigation menu opens and how to close it again.
Does the menu slide in from the side or drop down?
Does it cover the entire screen?
Are there drop downs in the menu that are easy to access?
Is closing the menu simple and intuitive?
How many times have you visited a website and had the headline take up your entire screen? If you’re anything like me, far too many times. While giant headlines may look great on giant monitors, they have no place on mobile websites where real estate is at a premium.
Ideally, the headline should be large enough to stand out and stand apart, but small enough to allow visitors to get to the content with as little friction as possible.”
4. Body Copy
When it comes to the primary content on the page, readability is of the utmost importance. It can be hard to get readability right for every situation as people view websites through numerous devices and browsers with their screens at varying levels of brightness.
Luckily there are a few solid rules of thumb to follow:
16pt type is fairly standard for body copy for mobile, while many websites are moving toward 18pt and 20pt sizes for large desktop screens.
Because different typefaces, even when set to the same size, may visually look like different sizes, the size and line height will also be different.
If the line height is too tight, it will be difficult for readers to find the start of the following line of type.
The wider the content width (measure), the larger the type and line height must be. Ideal content widths range from 65-80 characters.
When calculating line height, aim for 140-150% of the type size.
When it comes to images and website mobile experiences, anything that is set to align left or right could potentially produce weird gaps of empty space alongside the image.
Consider setting all images to align center on mobile devices and whenever possible, set them to display at the full content width.”
6. Buttons, Links, and Forms
Have you ever visited a website and wanted to fill out a form or click a button and couldn’t because it was too small or didn’t work right? Did you have to zoom in and try again?
That happened because the form was designed for a desktop experience.
For a superior website mobile experience:
Make sure all links are underlined and easy to see.
Make sure all buttons are large enough to click easily and leave enough space around them to ensure visitors don’t have trouble clicking on the right thing.
Make sure all form fields display large enough to accommodate fingers and be filled in easily.
7. Margins And Padding
One of the fastest ways to spot an amateur developer or DIY website is by evaluating the margins and padding on a mobile devices.
Gobs of beautiful white space may look beautiful on a desktop monitor, but scrolling past big blank blocks on a website mobile experience creates a poor user experience. Similarly, wide margins and narrow content widths may simplify the design and reduce distractions on large screens, while on mobile devices, wide margins will pinch the content width and make it harder for visitors to engage with your content.
Website real estate on mobile screens is at a premium, which means you need to make use of all of the space available.
Aim to keep the content width as wide as possible and evaluate vertical margins to ensure the correct content is grouped together.”
The footer includes content that is last in the hierarchy of website content. This means the content in the footer needs to be smaller and less pronounced than the rest of the content on the page, while still being easy to find and read.
If you implement a feature like infinite scroll, remember that visitors will not reach your footer until they run out of content unless you limit the number of posts that show at a time and use a “load more” button.
9. Moving Elements
Be careful of anything that moves or rotates.
Movements that may seem small on desktop may disrupt the website mobile experience. Features like rotating testimonials may be cool on large screens, but on mobile devices, if the testimonials aren’t all the same length, they can cause the website to “shake” or “jiggle” vertically each time the testimonials rotate.
10. Sidebar Content
Sidebars, when used correctly, can enhance a website’s user experience.
The problem is that most website owners don’t use them correctly and fail to consider what happens when the sidebar stacks underneath the content on mobile devices.
For example, if a website includes an opt-in at the end of a blog post and at the top of the sidebar, on mobile devices, visitors will see two competing calls to action right next to each other.
That is both confusing and frustrating for a visitor on a website mobile experience.
Take Your Time Developing Your Website Mobile Experience
Remember, your website needs to be beautiful, simple, and easy to use for the best possible mobile experience for visitors. As you can see, it takes a well thought out strategy to ensure this happens on both desktop and mobile, and must be considered from all angles (literally).
Discover 6 Ways to Improve Web Conversions Using Content
The post 10 Tips To Improve Your Website Mobile Experience appeared first on Liquid Web.
The Industry Buzz section is divided into three major sections, which is then subdivided into smaller sections.
Corporate Blogs which include official blogs from web hosts, registrars, search engines and other related sites.
Magazines & Blogs include interesting websites related to the hosting industry, but not necessarily from official company blogs.
Industry Leaders include personal blogs from important industry leaders, such as employees from Google and WordPress. These blogs sometimes include insights on how industry leaders think, but also may contain topics not related to hosting.