Nexcess Blog

How To Reduce The Amount Of WordPress Training Clients Require

At the end of every WordPress project, after the final website is launched into the world, there is one final task to complete: educating the client on how to use WordPress. The length and depth of the training depends on not only the client’s technical savvy and familiarity with WordPress, but also the complexity of the website itself. When it comes to educating clients on how to use WordPress, there are several common ways freelancers and agencies fall short with clients: They fail to account for the depth of training that will be needed based on the client’s knowledge and complexity of the site, so the cost of the training is not properly accounted for in the client agreement.They try to cram all of the training into one single training session and it is rushed and stressful.They cover too much and the client feels overwhelmed, and begins to tune out.They don’t prepare the client for the training sessions and properly set expectations about what can be achieved.They start from scratch and reinvent the wheel with every client.They are surprised by the client showing up to a website training with members of their team—and now they’re teaching a group instead of an individual. When starting out my own agency, I unfortunately experienced all of these scenarios which used up valuable time, added stress to my day, and made it harder for my clients to do what they wanted to do.  As I worked to establish repeatable systems and processes, I created a client management system to improve the client experience and increase profitability. As part of that process, I began to explore options to not only deliver better WordPress training to clients but make it more enjoyable, engaging, and stress-free. My goal was to: Provide detailed, consistent WordPress training (no matter who was delivering it).Ensure all clients have a baseline understanding of how WordPress works.Shorten the WordPress training sessions to no more than 60 minutes, including client Q&A.Reduce the total number of training sessions per client.Reduce the amount of beginner questions asked by clients during the training.Reduce the amount of support clients required in the 30 days post-launch. WordPress Training Videos One of the solutions I came up with was offering my clients a set of WordPress training videos that would take care of the basics.  The idea was that these pre-recorded videos would get the clients up to speed on how to use WordPress and I would then only be responsible for providing training on the custom features created for their unique website and answering their questions. I also had the idea to provide all clients who sign a monthly support agreement continued access to the videos as a bonus. But here’s the thing:  I didn’t have time to create all of the WordPress training videos I needed. I didn’t have the right equipment to do it. And I didn’t want to be responsible for recreating them every time WordPress pushed out an update. Luckily, that’s when I discovered WP101.  With the WP101 Plugin you can provide clients 31 WordPress training videos right inside their WordPress dashboard, which is awesome. But what I love most about WP101 is that you don’t have to use the plugin. Instead, you can choose to embed the WP101 WordPress training videos on your website with the white label option, which keeps clients coming back to your site over and over again. How I Leverage The WP101 Videos For several years, the WP101 suite of WordPress Training Videos—which now includes Gutenberg—has been an integral part of my client website training process. Leveraging the WP101 videos has not only saved countless hours of time but provided more value for my clients while helping boost profits. Let me explain… STEP 1: Introduce The WordPress Videos I introduce the collection of WordPress videos to my client during the development stage of the website build, providing them with a secret URL and a password. While my team is building out the site, I ask the client to watch all of the videos—each less than 5 minutes in length. STEP 2: Make The Videos A Prerequisite When planning the official website launch, I set a date for the WordPress training session with my client. At this time I do three things: I remind them to watch the training videos providedI ask them to write down any questions they haveI let them know that watching the videos is a prerequisite to the hands-on training. If they don’t watch the videos, we reschedule the training session, which also delays the client receiving the keys to the site. STEP 3: Host A Quality Training By making the WP101 videos a requirement for the website training session, I guarantee every client is showing up to the session with the prerequisite understanding of how WordPress works and how to use it.  This means I can skip over that information during the live training. Instead, my time with the client is focused on the specific features built for their site, the plugins used, and the questions clients might have, which results in a better, more engaging, higher value training. STEP 4: Provide Ongoing Access To The Videos If a client signs on for ongoing, monthly website support, they receive continued access to the WordPress training videos for as long as they remain a client. This means that when they have turnover on their team, they can have their new staff watch the videos and get up to speed or if they forget something, they can watch the video and get it done quickly. This single step alone has practically eliminated all post-launch client support requests, which has saved time, reduced resources, and increased profits. My Advice To You As you can see, while my goals were lofty, they all were achievable with the right tools. Some of you might read this, click over to the WP101 Plugin site, see the price for the Professional Plan (which is worth every penny), and think:  “I don’t want to pay their annual fee. I’ll create my own videos.”  Truthfully,  yes, you could do that. But to do so you would need to invest in the right audio/video and sound equipment, write each individual video script, record all the screencasts, perform hours of editing, create splash images, and upload the final videos to a video hosting site, which you also need to pay for. Then after spending a crazy amount of hours to finish the videos, WordPress will push out an update, they’ll change things in the user interface (UI), and you’ll have to do it all over again. So my advice to you is:  Think about how much your time is worth and consider how much you charge per hour and how many hours this would take you.Then think about the amount of stress you already have in your life and ask yourself if this will create more stress by piling on more work.Finally, check out the WP101 Plugin again, do yourself a favor, and just say yes. Buy it, integrate it into your workflow, and benefit from their hard work and ongoing updates. Editor’s note: WP101 videos are included for free with our Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce hosting.  When you build in efficiencies that benefit you by saving time and increasing profits, and benefit the client by delivering a quality product that adds value to their experience, everyone wins. Plus, when the client’s last interactions with you as part of their website project are positive, engaging, and valuable, they’ll remember those good feelings later and provide a better testimonial. The Tools You Choose Affect Profitability While choosing to leverage the WP101 videos in my agency has helped improve the level of services I provide clients, the biggest impact is the effect that decision has had on my ability to land monthly support clients and increase the profitability of my projects.  What’s amazing about this approach is that you can do the same thing with other tools like Nexcess’ Managed WordPress hosting, which takes care of image compression, automatic updates for WordPress and plugins, automatic daily backups, automatic SSL, and staging environments, as well as access to developer tools and no pageview/traffic limits. The post How To Reduce The Amount Of WordPress Training Clients Require appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

The Fun in Fundamentals: Keeping Company Culture Alive While Working Remotely

Liquid Web’s Executive Vice President and General Manager on creating a virtual team building atmosphere where individuals feel valued, supported, and part of a community. A company culture in which employees feel challenged, work with people they enjoy, and work for people who “have their back” creates an atmosphere of high performance, loyalty, positivity, and frankly, fun. In my last blog, fundamentals of management, we talked about the fundamentals being more critical than ever given our current global pandemic situation. Now, as we face the reality of an extended stay-at-home work-life situation, it is also imperative that we maintain a strong community for the sake of our employees. A company culture in which a worker feels valued and supported as an individual is vital in even the best of circumstances. Given the current global situation, the importance of maintaining your culture and your “community” magnifies.  In my experience, keeping employees motivated and with high morale take priority, and it’s essential to make sure you have these bases covered: Ensure each employee knows how they fit into the bigger picture, and how their role contributes to the success of the company.  Reinforce with employees that management “has their back,” that employees are empowered, can take some risks, and that you’ll be there to support them.  Take the time to ensure employees feel valued and are compensated fairly for the job they are doing. Sure, everyone would like to make more money, but sometimes that’s not what it’s all about. Make sure their compensation is fair and equitable to their peers for the job they are doing.   And then, to tie it all together, most employees want to have a sense of community – not just from the neighborhood in which they live, but in their place of work, as well. Layering on a strong sense of community in a way that matches your culture can take your team from good to great.    People are happiest when working in an environment that is in line with their values. A company culture in which employees feel challenged and are working alongside people they enjoy creates an atmosphere of positivity and productivity. And a part of liking someone is knowing someone—like really knowing them—on a level deeper than what their role is in the company. In times like this, it is essential that people feel connected to one another.  Here’s where the FUN in fundamentals can come in… Now is a great time to spend time thinking about how you all stay connected. Here are some things we are doing at Liquid Web to ensure that our team doesn’t feel isolated, and that every single employee knows that we have their back while keeping morale high and infusing some fun into a virtual work setting. A little something for all interests and personality types.   I’d love to hear what you’re doing – hit me up @cawheeler99 on Twitter and share! Themed Meetings If you have a recurring meeting on the calendar, consider adding a bit of fun by giving it a theme. Every Friday, wear a certain color. My team enjoys Hat Fridays. Try different themes based on a decade or destination. Games At the beginning of meetings, ask someone to send in a photograph. Everyone has to guess who sent it in. When the sender is identified, they get a chance to share a bit about the photo they sent and why it’s meaningful to them.  Gift Exchanges Draw names using a gift exchange generator, set a budget, and let the fun begin. If budget is an issue, try doing a DIY gift exchange in which gifts must be made using only items that the giver has on hand in their home. This is a really fun way to let employee creativity shine.  Netflix Watch Parties This is a fun way for employees to stay connected. We’ve also opened this up to families and have kid-friendly viewing options.  Roulette Hangouts Groups of 4-6 participants are randomly selected to have a 15-30 minute hangout session to talk shop, interests, or favorite Baby Yoda memes. Sample questions are provided as a starting point to get the ball rolling, but participants are free to talk about anything they want to get the conversation flowing. Virtual Home Tours Ask employees to share their favorite part of their home, whether that’s a room, a piece of furniture, or an object. Find out what’s bringing employees comfort in these times when so many of us are housebound.  Art Exchanges Employees fill out a questionnaire about their interests and personality. They are then matched with an employee from a different location. The two swap questionnaires and, based on the other person’s answers, they paint or draw a small 4×4 piece of art for their new friend.  Volunteer Initiatives Set up Slack channels based on locations that allow employees to share information about ways to help in their communities.  Hidden Talents Hosting a virtual Talent Show is an excellent way to get to know your colleagues better. Everyone gets five minutes. Acts can range from serious to silly. Laughter is inevitable and you might just discover a secret opera singer in your midst.  Happy Hour Team Meetings This is a great way to unwind at the end of the week. Close out the week with a meeting that allows teams to check in about the week over their beverage of choice.  Themed Photo Contests Every week, choose a stay-at-home friendly theme (like food, pets, from my window) and host a photo contest. Feature the best submission at the start of a team meeting. Resource-Sharing for Parents and Caregivers Start a Slack channel for sharing resources like online learning, tips for keeping kids entertained, and how to balance working from home while managing education at home.  For large companies with lots of employees, variety is essential. Try different approaches and see what resonates. One silver lining of these very trying times is that, if we can find ways to forge the connections that this season calls for, we will know one another more deeply—and we may even be more productive—than we ever have before.    Be safe out there, and have some FUN! The post The Fun in Fundamentals: Keeping Company Culture Alive While Working Remotely appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

How to Become a Freelance WordPress Developer

With more than 35% of all websites using WordPress, you can tell it’s absolutely massive and is very much still growing. There is still a ton of room for good people to do good work and create a thriving business with WordPress. Today, we’re going to look into becoming a freelance WordPress developer. I’m going to talk about getting started as a WordPress developer but you can use this same advice if you are a designer or even a writer in the WordPress space. Yes, you will need to find different teaching resources, but the most important elements, like making good decisions and building your reputation, are essentially the same across different fields. Start With Why If you want to start your own business, it needs to begin with a pretty good reason. Sure, the freedom of working where & when you want is great, but you can get that with many jobs now. You don’t need to take on all the terrible parts of running a company yourself to get freedom in where you work. That means you need to have a separate reason to run your own business outside of having freedom. One of the reasons I work for myself is that in addition to getting to write what I want, I get to take the time to help parents run a business that lets them be an awesome father or mother. Taking a job at a company would mean that I can’t sit down in the middle of the day to write about being a dad running a business. I accept all the downsides of running my own business because I get to help the parents I interact with be the awesome people they dreamed of being. When I’m having a down day because someone hasn’t paid me, I remember someone I’ve helped and keep pushing forward. Ask yourself: Why will I put up with the hard days of working for myself?Who specifically can I help by working for myself that I can’t help otherwise? Understanding Your Value The next thing to tackle when you work for yourself is understanding the value you bring to the table.  When you’re starting as a developer it’s easy to think that the most valuable thing you bring to the table is writing code for your clients. Your clients also think that this is the highest value thing you do for them but you’re both wrong! The most important thing an experienced developer brings to the table is the wisdom to make good decisions. When you know which of the 10 WordPress form plugins suits this project best, you are bringing value to the table.  Making the right decision about putting code in a plugin or in the theme is another valuable bit of knowledge that clients don’t have. The code you type out is simply the visible evidence of that knowledge. A good way to start talking about value with your client is in your initial email with them. I’ve shared my initial client email previously. Please note, the questions center around the value that the client expects from the project. I don’t worry much about the hours that something will take when I’m starting to talk to a client. At that point of the process they don’t even care. The only thing a client cares about is that your fees provide value to them. They want to know that if you’re going to charge $5k to build their site, they’re going to get at least $10k of value out of it in the next year. If you want to charge well for your services, then you need to show your clients that they will get value from the work you do. If you leave the value question to chance then you’re not going to win much work. Ask yourself: How can I show my client they’ll make 3X or more from my work?Where can I help a client avoid known problems? Learning the Field There are a few steps to learning any field. First, it starts with some research so that you know what the best sources of information are. One good spot to start for almost any field is LinkedIn Learning. They hire top professionals in the industry to provide training. For WordPress development you can get some deeper dives once you’ve got a handle on the basics: WP SessionsTom McFarlinGutenberg Courses The biggest mistake that people make as they start learning anything is waiting for too long to get their work out there in the world. You will always be better tomorrow. Your code will be cleaner, your writing will be more concise, and your design will be tighter. Start putting your work out there by picking a personal project, building it and then sharing it with people. Share it on social networks and ask for feedback. Most people in WordPress remember everyone that helped them and are happy to spend a few minutes helping someone that is just starting out. Finding Your First Freelance Job Now, how about finding your first job as a WordPress professional? Do you know where to start? When you don’t know anyone you’re going to need to use places like Craigslist, Upwork and Fiverr to find clients. When I started out on my own, I made a rule that I needed to make 10 new contacts a day with potential clients. Sometimes at the end of the day, that would be done just by new emails coming in via an ad on Craigslist but other days I’d search far and wide for anyone to contact about doing work for their WordPress site. Two popular places to get started at are Fiverr and Upwork so let’s take a quick look at both options. Fiverr Fiverr is no longer people doing jobs for $5. You can put a range of prices on your work. On Fiverr, you put your ad out there and then customers come to you to get you to do the work. You don’t have to come up with a custom proposal for each project you want to work on. Even 10 years into building sites on WordPress, I’ve used Fiverr to try out new services because of the built-in audience. I may reduce the prices a bit to hit the audiences that Fiverr attracts, but otherwise, it’s the same service I’ll use with clients once it’s been tested, adjusted, and validated as something people want. Upwork Like Fiverr, Upwork has a built-in audience of projects. Some companies will only work with contractors that use Upwork as a platform. If you’re looking for a large selection of projects, then you can log in to your Upwork account and select from a huge volume of projects. The downside with  Upwork is that you have to create a proposal for each project you want a chance at working on. That adds a bunch of unpaid administrative work to your plate. Both of these platforms are valuable under different circumstances. Decide which one is right for your current situation, timelines, and gaps in current project load. Other places to find WordPress work jobs.wordpress.netWP HiredPost StatusWPMU Dev Job BoardCodeable If you don’t have your daily quota of new contacts, start to go through these sites to make sure that you reach out enough potential clients to keep your business going. To really take your career to the next level though, you need to start building your reputation in your field. Use Blogging to Build your Reputation as a Freelance WordPress Developer If you’re working for yourself, your goal should be to position yourself as an expert so that customers come calling looking for your expertise. To get that happening you need to take the initiative and start showing customers that you are an expert before they work with you. One of the easiest ways is to start publishing your own content on your site. When I began my WordPress journey every time I’d have a problem that I had to look up and solve I’d write a blog post about the problem and the solution. I’d make sure to title my content with the search terms I had used at the beginning of my journey. This quickly got other developers to notice me, and 10 years later Nexcess asked me to write for them. I write for Nexcess now because someone on their team noticed my work and started to follow me. If you can, take the time to write something and add a screencast explaining the problem. Some people will prefer the video and others will prefer to read through the text of your post, or maybe even just jump to the code. Even if you’re just starting, teach what you’re learning once you have a bit of a handle on it. When I was writing about WordPress code issues, a single post solving a problem brought in $15k that year alone, and then $10k a year for the next five years based on a single client that found that content. My quick easy fix was something they could do themselves, but they had a bunch of other problems with their eCommerce site that they needed me to fix. Even a few weeks into your learning journey, what feels easy for you will be amazing to someone else. Becoming Your Own Boss Takes Work Working for yourself is not all beaches and breaks. It takes lots of work to succeed as your own boss, but you can do it. To build a successful WordPress Development business make sure you have a solid reason why you’re working for yourself. Take the time to understand the value you provide to your clients so you can charge properly. Learn to find your ideal customers, and market yourself as a professional. If you can do these things, then you can become a freelance WordPress Developer and run a business that you love to work in. The post How to Become a Freelance WordPress Developer appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

PCI Compliance & Magento 1 EOL – When Not To Push the Panic Button

These are times of authentic fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The last thing any of us – or any of our bottom lines – need is the dissemination of falsehoods or false choices intended to drive panicked business decisions. Unfortunately, shamefully, and near daily, we come across such messages relating to the Magento 1 platform (M1) end of life next month. Disruption? Yes, absolutely. Despair? Absolutely not.  Deep breath.  Some vendors would have you believe that maintaining PCI compliance is incompatible with staying on Magento 1. From multinational financial services to “solopreneurs in ecommerce,” businesses that rely on the M1 platform are NOT tethered to an expensive migration to Magento 2 at the end of June 2020. We know this because Nexcess has been the leading hosting provider for Magento stores for more than ten years.  We also know – now more than ever – that uninterrupted sales and services are top of mind. Thus, we designed Nexcess Safe Harbor for those who cannot afford to – or need more time to strategize – or do not wish to migrate to M2. Stay with Magento 1, and our Safe Harbor product provides security and technology updates for an extended period of time.  Nexcess is a PCI DSS Level 1 provider across all hosting solutions. Our platform is aligned with PCI compliance requirements, offering your customers the secure buying experience they expect. Nexcess Safe Harbor offers security procedures and safeguards that exceed compliance requirements. You can also connect with us about alternative platforms that can meet the needs of ecommerce enterprises large and small, from high-paced to mid-level to newly launched.  As previously shared in this space by my amazing colleagues and by me (please see below), you have options. Even 60 days out. Interim or otherwise, Nexcess Safe Harbor may be the place and the space you need as you consider the following:  The customizable flexibility, stability, and security of M1’s open source platformCost and time relating to re-platforming/migratingMagento 1 is incredibly stable as it’s already been vetted by the entire Magento community.Patches, patches, patchesCustomization on the back end can mean replatforming costs upwards of 100k  Here at Nexcess, we are a big tent provider and love helping companies of all sizes – those who use the open-source version of Magento or those who use the enterprise version. We don’t champion doomsday either/or scenarios. Nor do we believe that adversity mandates an adversarial approach. History has shown that when people work together to put forth thoughtful solutions, we can collectively meet any challenge – today or tomorrow. The same holds true for all of us at Nexcess and in our work with customers. Side by side, site by site, store by store. Let us show you how.  Our Approach to the Magento Platform ChangeDon’t Settle for Just Any Port in the StormMagento 1 Migration: How to Save Your Budget and Stay SecurePCI for Magento 1 The post PCI Compliance & Magento 1 EOL – When Not To Push the Panic Button appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Always Own Your eCommerce Store

Last year, we sold my late father-in-law’s pocket knife collection on eBay. It was the right platform for a project like that. He had collected an impressive number of knives over his long life, but the total amount we were able to sell online was about $5,000 over the course of a few months. EBay works for selling a few knives but if I were actually going into the knife business, there is no way I would have entrusted my livelihood to a third-party platform. As recent events have shown, there are a number of risk factors that you can’t control when you take that approach.  Here’s a few things that you should think about when deciding whether to set up your own online store vs. using a platform or marketplace. Control and Analyze Your Data Amazon gave testimony to Congress last year that it uses “‘aggregate customer data’ to inform its private label brands”. This means they use 3rd party sellers information to create their own version of everything from data cables to clothing. They’ve learned what types, lengths, colors, and sizes sell best – by letting their resellers figure it out for them while giving them the data in real-time. Direct access to your analytics data is also important. As your site traffic grows, you (or an agency you hire) can analyze data from Google, Yahoo, Glew and other sources to find out where your marketing is succeeding or failing, and where your site converts well and where it doesn’t. As your business matures, you can even personalize your product recommendations, customer experience, and even pricing based on who is visiting your site.    Control Your Reputation (and Refunds) Your reputation as a seller is important. If you treat customers badly, word will get around, and that’s as it should be, but the major marketplaces are sometimes buyer-friendly to a fault. Before choosing to open up online on someone else’s store, read their forums to find out what experiences other sellers have had. A 2019 eBay scam forced a seller to spend a lot of time disputing a refund with eBay, and it’s likely that thousands of other sellers were affected.  Decide What Products You’re Willing to Sell There are a number of legal products that are nevertheless banned from different platforms. We actually found that one of my father-in-laws knives was considered a gravity knife – legal in most states but not sellable on eBay. CBD products, firearms and related items, vaping products – the list goes on and on. What’s worse, it’s subject to change. Shopify once welcomed firearms-related products, but changed course in 2018, leaving merchants scrambling to find a new solution. When you own your own ecommerce store you’ll never have to replatform because someone in an office somewhere decides it’s no longer appropriate. Decide What Payment Processor to Use Controversial products like the ones mentioned above are sometimes not allowed because of the preference of the platform or the marketplace owner. But sometimes they are not allowed because they are considered higher risk credit card transactions. That’s fair enough, but when your platform of choice doesn’t work with the card processor you need, the effect is the same – you’re out of business.  Having a choice about your card processor is also important because card processors vary widely in the fees and percentages they charge for each transaction. Some SaaS platforms charge transaction fees if you DON’T use their in-house payment processor, on top of the fees charged by your merchant bank. If you do enough volume, these fees can really add up. Decide How (and When) You Will Do Fulfillment and Shipping Amazon again made the news recently when it announced that it would restrict shipping of items it deemed “nonessential” during the COVID-19 crisis. While this action may be necessary during these unprecedented times, it illustrates the power that Amazon has over their customers who have opted for Amazon fulfillment and shipping. If you’re a seller on Amazon you literally can’t make money since Amazon isn’t fulfilling those non-essential orders. Setting up your own fulfillment operation is easy enough for most small businesses, and as you scale you can either grow your own fulfillment operation or negotiate with other fulfillment centers that operate worldwide – unless you’re locked in to a platform that determines this for you. Operating a small online business requires you to make a number of hard choices – being locked into a platform or marketplace that dictates these choices for you can make it difficult to succeed. Look at WooCommerce or Magento open-source platforms which preserve your ability to grow and adapt your business. The post Always Own Your eCommerce Store appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

In Times of Uncertainty, Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Humanity

Every small business is unique and faces unique challenges in the best of times. As you navigate today’s challenges, exploring options to ensure sales with minimal disruption, now might be the time to consider taking your business online. There are many things to consider when adding an e-commerce channel. Legal and Regulatory Stuff Taxes, payment gateways, shipping, and product liability are just a few areas to explore as you expand from bricks to clicks. Since your business is (likely) incorporated already, your e-commerce site with the same name and owner should fall under the same legal shelter. Other issues to check off the list: Create and adhere to shipping and return policiesTrademark your company logo and symbolEnsure that published site content is copyright free Of course, you cannot pay close enough attention to matters of consumer data privacy. A standard set of Terms & Conditions should cover the vast majority of your site’s transactions. Least favorite of all, as a business with a physical presence, also called nexus, (and every state defines this differently) the vast majority of products are taxable and you are required to collect sales taxes.  Building a Business Plan & Budget Generally speaking, your budget will be driven by the sales volume you project in your e-commerce business plan. And as with traditional business plans, you’ll want to understand and leverage your competitive advantage, identify target customers, and develop a digital marketing plan which can include costs associated with email campaigns, social media content, and video production among other tools. (Site platform and host information are in a separate section.) ECommerce sites don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can hire a freelancer or build your own WooCommerce site for $5,000. If you have a simple store that should be a great starting point. However, the more inventory you put online, the more features, functionality and security your site will require.  WordPress is utilized by more than 60 million sites worldwide. Selecting a Platform & Host (important!) Your online store’s platform is like your car’s engine, and ideally you should never have to open the hood. That said, every platform comes with a learning curve and it can be fun to see what tools make the most sense to showcase your products or services. The WordPress platform – an open source and software content management system (CMS) – is utilized by about 30% of the top 10 million websites or more than 60 million sites worldwide. There is a reason for its ubiquity. Part and parcel to your platform is your site’s host, the selection of which should entail a comprehensive analysis of the service provider and available perks. Success factors include:  Server reliabilityUptime scoresCustomer serviceSecurity (SSL certificates)Availability of site backupsRegistration and maintenance costsAccount limitations (our lowest level WooCommerce plan can handle 500 orders an hour)and eCommerce and email options  If your business already has a website, WooCommerce may be a good option as you extend to online sales. Inventory Tracking, Product Fulfillment & Delivery Knowing what to sell can be a challenge. Many brick-and-mortar stores that expand to e-commerce start by initially limiting online inventory to their top 10 or 20 items and grow from there as they gain comfort tracking sales and as the site gains new customers. Remember that for each item, you’ll want to include product information such as cost, sizing, color choices, return policies, and shipping details. Stringent shipping and delivery protocols are increasingly prevalent across the retail spectrum. In addition to logistics planning for how to fulfill new orders from potentially anywhere, you can reassure customers that your store has adopted universal precautions when it comes to inventory management, packing and shipping An analytics program will help you see which channel customers are coming from. Marketing & SEO – How will customers find you? We could share pages and pages about digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The bottom line is that websites must meet specific requirements set by search engines like Google. This is why an SEO strategy is critical. SEO trends will inform your site content and ensure that customers see your store in search engine results. Across these trends, descriptions of products and services should include natural and identifiable keywords that search engine crawlers will seek out to connect prospective shoppers to your site. It’s also important to make site page titles and meta descriptions unique to each page. While security may seem irrelevant to SEO, it can impact a customer’s experience: a seemingly unsafe (or “not secure”) website will propel site visitors to the exit door. Voice search, mobile, video, dwell time, load time, and length of high-quality content all contribute to how people find and engage with your site.   Customer Engagement Amidst “Social Distancing.” Your new online store can be built with diverse and creative tools to maintain your connections with customers used to walking in your door – and to cultivate new customers. Videos, social media, blogs, and virtual community gatherings can all be effective here. Bear in mind, however, that such features will add to the cost of your site’s construction and maintenance. Incentives to Return Customers to Your Physical Location Whatever our new normal looks like, most of us look forward to physically returning to our favorite boutique or market or restaurant. Until then you may want to incentivize customers with: Bounce-Back Coupons for In-Store Purchases or Discounts“Date TBD” Special In-Store EventNew In-Store Loyalty ProgramGift cards (for online or in person) If you’ve put off exploring your online options, now is the time for action in order to expand your sales footprint and ensure brand continuity. Nexcess can answer all your questions and we can connect you with the resources you will need.   The post In Times of Uncertainty, Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Humanity appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Liquid Web Hires Technology Veteran to Expand Sales Reach

Lansing, Michigan,  April 27th, 2020 –  Liquid Web  Family of Brands, the market leader in managed hosting and application services to SMBs and web professionals, announced, today, the hiring of Adam Williams as Liquid Web’s Chief Revenue Officer to oversee revenue operations for the Liquid Web and Nexcess brands.  Williams brings nearly 20 years of sales leadership experience to his role, which includes leadership roles with technology providers, Microsoft and Rackspace.  Williams will expand both the direct sales and channel organization to handle the rapidly growing product portfolio for the Managed Cloud and Managed Applications brands.   Building on the company’s reputation for expert and helpful service, Williams’ goal is to provide the right solutions across the product portfolio for Web Professionals and Agency Partners the companies serve. “Finding a company like Liquid Web that takes that personal customer connection a step further is amazing and humbling.  I am excited to apply my experience to see how we can continue to wow and serve customers,” says Williams. “We could not be more excited to add Adam to our team to further champion our efforts to build relationships with our customers, aggressively advocate for the products, programs, and processes to help them grow their businesses,”  said Carrie Wheeler, EVP & GM, Liquid Web.   “His passion for customers, technology experience and ability to execute is a cultural alignment that excites us.  Adding a leader of this caliber furthers our commitment to powering the online content, commerce and potential for the Web professionals we serve”, said Wheeler. About The Liquid Web Family of Brands  Building on 20 plus years of success, our Liquid Web Brand Family consists of four companies (Liquid Web, Nexcess, iThemes, and InterWorx) purpose-built to deliver software, solutions, and managed services for mission-critical sites, stores and applications for SMB’s and the Designers, Developers, and Agencies who create for them.  With more than 1.5 million sites under management, The Liquid Web Family of Brands serves over 45,000 customers spanning 150 countries. The company has assembled a world-class team, 10 global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies for twelve years. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at https://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn. The post Liquid Web Hires Technology Veteran to Expand Sales Reach appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

5 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference or WordCamp

Whether you’re working from home for the first time, or you’re a experienced virtual commuter, you’ve probably been spending more time online these days. Chances are you’ve been invited to or seen a virtual conference as they’ve started springing up to replace the in-person events that have been cancelled across the globe.  As a remote worker, I’ve been attending meetings online for a while but participating in WordCamp San Antonio this year marked my first virtual conference. The event was well organized, packed with information, and attended by people from all over the world! Here are my top 5 takeaways for virtual events. 1) Remove distractions It’s easy to assume that enjoying a virtual conference will mean being able to clean the house, watch the kids, or get some light handiwork done. Unfortunately, multitasking doesn’t really work for most people. Attending a virtual conference is similar to enjoying an in-person conference.  During in-person conferences, the only distractions are the people in the same room (and maybe the computer or phone in front of you). Once you step into a conference hall to listen to a speaker, you have one focus. Remember to retain that mentality when you step into a virtual conference room by removing external distractions. For instance, it helped for me to close the door to my office during sessions so I wouldn’t hear people in my house watching Netflix. 2) Be on time Arriving late to someone’s talk means missing critical information that sets the stage for what you’re there to learn about. Arrive on-time to virtual talks in the same way you would in-person. Heck, why not try showing up a few minutes early to make sure your audio and video setup is working well? Consider setting a reminder on your phone, or adding an appointment to your calendar.  Online sessions are often recorded (and therefore watchable later), but don’t rely on that (sometimes recordings can fail). Attending live can also give you the opportunity to join the chat and ask real-time questions. 3) Take advantage of time in-between sessions One of the great things about a virtual conference is that you can switch between rooms quickly. Saving the 5 minute commute in-between sessions gives you more time to network and meet new people virtually. At WordCamp San Antonio, attendees were even encouraged to ask speakers questions in-between sessions.  At an in-person conference, one person can sometimes monopolize the limited ‘between’ time of a speaker. At a virtual conference, a speaker can usually field more questions, and the answers are accessible to all! 4) Make sure your environment is comfortable If you’ll be attending the conference all day, you’ll want to make sure your environment is as comfortable as possible. Bring snacks to keep your energy up and remember your favorite beverages. Consider using a pillow, moving your computer screen, and adding external speakers or headphones if you’re watching in a place with lots of distractions. 5) Get dressed This last tip might seem a little silly, but it’s one of my favorites. When I don’t get dressed like I’m attending an IRL conference or meeting, I don’t feel as confident. If I don’t feel confident, I might not feel like sharing my video camera (a must for remote workers and remote conferencers) or engaging as though I’m attending a real conference. Getting dressed is my way of telling myself (and others) I’m ready for business. In the office with my best business shirt. What virtual conferences have you been to?  Have you attended a virtual conference lately? Are you working from home for the first time? I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message on Twitter @ifyouwillit. The post 5 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference or WordCamp appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

The 11 Questions You Should be Asking Your WooCommerce Developer

As WooCommerce has grown in popularity, the community has seen an influx of web developers and designers offering their services to merchants. Within this group are incredibly talented and knowledgeable developers, as well as ‘green’, less experienced developers. Ensuring you’ve got a developer that can deliver what you’re looking for means this search can turn into a time-consuming task. With a group this diverse you do not have to accept the first WooCommerce developer that reaches out. Selecting the wrong developer can mean problems down the line, with inexperienced devs unable or unwilling to complete a project to specification. To avoid this, it’s important to gain insight into the developer’s capabilities and background before committing and collaborating together. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you should ask any potential WooCommerce developer, to ensure you find the right fit for your business. 1. Where Are They Known? One of the first hurdles is figuring out who to even start talking to for your project. While WooCommerce does provide a list of experts, it won’t be an exhaustive list of all the people that can build great WooCommerce solutions for you. If you’re building a specific type of store, start with a search to see who is writing about building WooCommerce solutions that match your needs. Not everyone can build that custom classifieds site you’ve been dreaming of building. If you find a specific author of interest on a blog like this one, it can be worth searching their name to find out what else they’ve talked about doing on their own site or on other blogs. This may also bring up talks they’ve done for local WordPress conferences (called WordCamps) or a YouTube channel where they talk about code issues they’re working on. While not everyone that’s great writes or does videos about their work, it’s a good place to start. 2. What does their Customer vetting process look like? As you start reaching out to different developers, take notice of their process to vet clients – because a good developer or agency will have a process. They should have a form to fill out, or a series of questions to answer before they start to dig deeper into your project. It may feel a bit off-putting to jump through another hoop or two to get to talk to someone about your project. Remember, a process is an indication of an experienced shop. They have a way to gather information so they can have the best chance of delivering on what their customers want. If you send a single email and get an instant quote from someone that can start tomorrow, at least take a step back and verify that whomever you’re talking to isn’t promising they can do the work just to get the work. Good developers are often busy. 3. What makes a successful project? Photo by rawpixel.com Once you get in touch with a prospective developer, the first question I recommend you ask is what does it take to make a project successful? They should have a list of ways in which you’ll communicate, and they’ll likely they’ll have a project management system that they prefer and want you to use. Not having a project management system is not a clear signal that it won’t work, but expect more experienced agencies to have one. One big red flag to look out for is if they deal with everything via email. It may be an indicator that they will work with your billable hours inefficiently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You want to know how your project is being handled. For example, popular freelancer Jason Resnick has all his clients use email, but all of that email gets sent back into a project management system that he uses to triage tasks. He works within the project management system while his clients deal with email alone. 4. Are we going to use an existing theme or build something custom? For many sites, it doesn’t make sense to launch with a custom design. It will take longer to build, cost more, and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll earn any more than if you went with an off-the-shelf theme customized to fit your branding. In fact, many times online shoppers benefit from templates because they know where to find what they’re looking for. Make sure you ask if the agency you’re talking to is planning to build something custom, or customize an existing theme for you. If you have your heart set on a completely custom theme, make sure you understand the tradeoffs you’re making and what benefits you may get out of something custom. No one may have your exact look, but you also won’t be getting updates for free for compatibility issues or to add features to your site. You’ll get both of these features if you go with an existing theme. Ask your developer if this is a possibility if you are set on a completely unique look. 5. What will it cost? Outside of your initial development costs, there may be some ongoing fees that you’ll need to pay. Usually that will include hosting, email marketing, and perhaps backups. Some agencies will want to host your site for you and then offer updates or further work included in their fee. One huge red flag to watch out for: if the agency quotes you a one-time price and makes no mention of ongoing expenses, they are likely not truly knowledgeable about what it takes to be effective online. This can also help you figure out how much access they plan to give you to the site. If they’re hosting your site, then you may only have access to update content. They can access files and make changes to your site, but often they don’t want to give that access to clients. While this may be fine, especially for less technical clients, long term it can be an issue if they go AWOL and you’re left with a site you can’t access, or if you decide to move to a new development team. Make sure you understand the tradeoffs. I’ve had many site owners come to me unable to get access to their site so that we can start a copy of it and get going on a new project. To prevent this you can ask for access to your hosting, files, and the full WordPress admin panels. This puts you in control and allows you to grant access to others, or move the site without needing to wrangle it with the agency who may or may not be responsive. 6. What plugins do you generally include? Unfortunately, sometimes you have to ask for every single function that you want on a site. Even the basics like having Google Analytics installed must be specifically requested and billed. You want to understand what the developer you’re talking to includes and what they don’t include. I generally view adding analytics and hooking a site up to an email marketing platform like Jilt as table stakes – like tires on a new car. You just get these things because you bought the car. Make sure that your expectations and their expectations match. 7. How are we going to drive and ensure solid conversion rates? Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. Making sales is the lifeblood of your online business, and while WooCommerce does a decent job of making sales easy out of the gate, you should be making sure that more thought will be put into driving good conversions for your site. Asking about conversions is a great way to see if your potential WooCommerce developer understands that your site is an investment that needs to work for you. Many of my clients are selling one-off products like a single book. This means that we send users directly to the checkout page skipping the cart page to reduce steps in the checkout process. In general, reducing steps in checkout will help you increase sales. On The Sweet Setup, we use Smart Offers to show additional courses that may interest customers after checkout. This approach ensures that we don’t get in the way of checkout, but we still get to upsell other products to customers. A good developer will have some of these strategies up their sleeve and be able to talk to you about which ones should work for your store. 8. How are we going to address site security? While security is important for every single site, it’s extra important for your WooCommerce site because you’re storing customer data. No, WooCommerce doesn’t store payment details, but you still have emails, passwords, and addresses in the system. The developer you choose to work with should have a plan to deal with any security issues for your site. In the same vein, they should also have a plan to deal with backups of your site. It’s entirely possible that your site could crash and leave you with nothing online. I always set up clients with a third-party backup plugin. I do this even if the host has its own backup system, because 1 backup isn’t enough – 2 backup location counts means you have a failsafe and a failsafe for your failsafe, too. This is also referred to as redundancy. Editor’s note: Managed WooCommerce hosting on Nexcess already has 30-day backups included with every plan. 9. How will we deal with theme and plugin updates? If the developer you select is planning to host your site for you, this will often include them doing theme and plugin updates for you. A good shop will perform them on a staging server so that they can be tested and then rolled out to the main site. Not every client wants this though; in fact, most of my clients update things themselves. Nexcess’ Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce hosting products include daily backups, and automatic updates with visual regression testing. What this means is that Nexcess will automatically update your theme and plugins, and then test to see if anything looks different. If something goes wrong, you can roll the site back and get in touch with your developer to fix the issues and update the site when it’s ready. 10. What happens if I want to add features later? If the agency you choose gives you access to everything and you’re paying your web host directly, then you are fully in control of future feature updates. You’ll likely start by reaching out to the agency you used to build the site for a quote and then get on their schedule to have the updates made. This is fairly standard, but sometimes you get stuck waiting for updates just because of other projects that have come up at the same time you’re asking for site changes. If that happens, as long as you followed these steps to have access to your site you will be able to find another WooCommerce developer that can help you with the changes. In fact, you should ask a prospective developer about others working on the site in the future. The truth is that any competent WooCommerce developer should be able to deliver work that others can build upon in the future. 11. What’s your warranty? Finally, you need to understand the warranty that is being provided on the work. Will the agency you use stand behind the work they do, and for how long? Officially, my warranty is for 60-days as long as WordPress, the theme, and plugins are all the same. I say it like that because sometimes a plugin will update and change how it functions and I can’t anticipate that even when I build sites using best practices. The reality is, as long as it’s a reasonable request and I feel that I likely should have caught that issue in the beginning, I generally fix things for my clients if things go wrong. Ultimately, I want happy customers and having someone fix things quickly for them is one way to make sure that happens. Whatever the warranty is, make sure you see value in it and understand its limitations before you pay anyone to work on your site. By using these key questions as you look for a WooCommerce developer, you can help ensure that you’ll be working with someone that fits the way you work, getting the project you want done on time and within budget. Build your high-performing WooCommerce store with Nexcess Create a store that converts traffic with Nexcess’ Managed WooCommerce hosting solution. It comes standard with Jilt to help you recover abandoned carts, performance tests whenever you need them, and the platform reduces query loads by 95%, leading to a faster store. The post The 11 Questions You Should be Asking Your WooCommerce Developer appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Ecommerce Tips: How to Ship Large and Heavy Items

When it comes to shipping, consumers definitely prefer fast & cheap (or free) — but determining how you ship your products & how you pass along or absorb that cost is tricky. And it becomes an even greater challenge if you sell large or bulky items. In this article we’re going to provide clarity into: How to pack boxes and calculate shipping costsHow to save money while shipping large and heavy itemsWhat qualifies as a large itemAnd finally, how you can ship large item with the three major carriers in the US How to Pack Boxes and Determine Shipping Costs  Products that are bulky (heavy or not), can be a challenge to ship. Your packaging must account for the item’s size while still allowing for packaging materials and filler. In addition there are both weight & size limits. If your package exceeds either of these limits you may need to find a different carrier or service.  Understanding Dimensional Weight If you think about how shipping carriers move packages around they do so with trucks. And these trucks have two limitations: WeightSpace If either of these are maxed out the carrier has to use more trucks & drivers which is one of their main expenses. To take both of these limitations into account carriers now use a formula combining both the dimensions & weight called Dimensional Weight. Here’s how to calculate dimensional weight:  Measure the package dimensions in inches. Multiply package length by weight by height. Divide by 139 for FedEx shipping and UPS Daily Rates. Use 166 instead for UPS Retail Rates. The result is the dimensional weight of the package.  Usually, carriers have you weigh your package and check the dimensional weight. They’ll generally charge whichever is higher. Make sure to compare the pricing and recommendations of carriers before shipping.  Cheapest Way to Ship Large Packages Depending on the shipping carrier and their specific requirements, costs can be calculated in different ways and packages can be categorized differently. You can do this in advance of customer purchases and set up your website to calculate shipping charges.  All of the major carriers offer free web tools and APIs to make this easier. For instance, USPS allows you to customize your customers’ online shipping experience with their free tools. Both WooCommerce & Magento offer software to help you calculate shipping costs with major carriers. You can also keep your shipping costs as low as possible by:  Weigh and measure your packaging materials. Try a variety of different packaging types. Use the lightest, most compact and cost-effective packaging materials possible.Customers like fast shipping, but consider offering a discount or incentive for longer shipping times since this may save you money.  Shop around and compare carrier pricing for products you frequently ship. Keep in mind that these requirements are subject to local differences. These guidelines apply to most packages shipped within the US. For other countries, check with the carrier.  Why Does Package Weight Matter? What are Heavy Packages?  If you know which shipping carrier you plan to use and the basic dimensions of the item you’re going to ship, you can develop a plan and get an accurate cost estimate. Weight and outer package dimensions are a big deciding factor in how much you’ll be paying for shipping.  Of course the packaging you use for shipping is part of the cost, too. Large and heavy products can be expensive to transport and may also require special packaging that’s durable and designed for heavy or bulky items. This may require custom-designed cushioning or reinforced box materials.  Custom materials may cost more and can also add to the weight and bulk of your shipment. The added mass ultimately means more fuel and resources used by the carrier to transport your product. Carriers pass these costs along to retailers as higher shipping charges.  Each carrier has their own definitions for a “large” package. Heavy items must be packaged appropriately before carriers can ship them, so be sure to read their requirements carefully. USPS shipping requirements don’t allow packages heavier than 70 pounds. So, if you have an item over that threshold, you might want to consider using a private carrier such as FedEx or UPS. UPS has special packaging requirements starting at 70 pounds while FedEx starts at 75 pounds. How to Pack Heavy Items for Shipment and Determine Shipping Costs Each shipping carrier has different guidelines & requirements for heavy & bulky items. With this in mind, here’s how to pack those items and determine your costs.  FedEx Guidelines and Pricing for Heavy Items Weight limits FedEx Home Delivery ships packages up to 70 pounds. Packages that are heavier than this are considered “heavy” and may be shipped through FedEx Ground if they are under 150 pounds. For items above 150 pounds, consider using FedEx Express Freight or FedEx Freight instead — these services accept shipments that are up to 20,000 pounds.  Outer Box Use corrugated cardboard for the outer box and package non-corrugated boxes inside instead of shipping these boxes on their own. For instance, if a guitar you’re shipping came inside a non-corrugated box, you should place the entire box inside a corrugated cardboard box for shipping. Use double-wall boxes if the item you’re shipping is heavy but under 150 pounds.  Inner Boxes Separate items inside the box in their own sealed boxes if they may be damaged under normal handling conditions.  Safety Labels Boxes that weigh over 70 pounds must be shipped via FedEx Ground, or FedEx Express Freight or FedEx Freight. If a box weighs over 75 pounds, you are required to attach a FedEx yellow and black heavyweight safety label. These are placed over the diagonal corners of the package. To get these labels, contact FedEx or visit a FedEx location.  Filler If you use filler material to cushion items, center your items away from box corners and wrap items carefully with cushioning material.  Pricing Your charges for shipping are based on weight, the FedEx services you choose, and the destination.  To get the most up-to-date information on weights and standards, view the general packaging guidelines from Fedex.  FedEx Requirements for Large Packages Size FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground services require packages to be under 165 inches in both length and girth. For larger shipments, you may use FedEx Express Freight services or FedEx Freight. Using FedEx Freight, you can ship packages up to 21 feet long.  Large Packages That are Lightweight  Compare the true weight of the package with the calculated dimensional weight. FedEx charges the heavier of these two.  UPS Requirements and Pricing for Heavy Packages  Box Strength Packages weighing more than 70 pounds must meet the UPS Box Strength Guidelines. Use strong packaging designed for heavy objects. Choose brand-new boxes that haven’t been exposed to humidity.  Sealing Boxes Ideally, seams should be stapled or stitched shut. Glue may tear or break during shipping, and rip your package apart. Use heavy-duty, reinforced tape with three strips over the top and bottom seam and also seal the middle and edge seams completely.  Safety Labels The UPS safety label program begins at 70 pounds. Above this weight, packages should have yellow and black warning labels provided by UPS. The warning should be placed directly to the right of the address label. Write down the total weight on the white portion of the safety label.  Filler Avoid box filler that shifts or doesn’t protect heavy items. For instance, packaging peanuts and polystyrene pieces may not cushion fragile shipments enough if the items are also heavy enough to crush the filler pieces. UPS recommends that you consider alternatives that are more appropriate for shipping something heavy such as cardboard that’s custom developed for shipping.  Pricing Your pricing depends on the UPS service you choose, your package’s final destination, and your package’s weight. A “Large Package” or “Over the Maximum” surcharge may apply.  Review the UPS guidelines for packaging heavy shipments.  UPS Large Package Guidelines Size The maximum package size for UPS is 165 inches in both length and girth. Freight Services may allow for larger maximums, so it’s worth it to find out what specific requirements apply to what you’re shipping and where you’re shipping it.  Large Packages That are Lightweight  Compare the actual weight with the dimensional weight. UPS will charge you for whichever is higher.  Large Package Surcharge  UPS applies an additional charge for packages that exceed a length plus girth that’s over 130 inches. Unless you use Ground Freight Pricing, you’ll pay for at least 90 pounds.  USPS Guidelines for heavy items. Weight Packages above 70 pounds aren’t allowed. So any package you ship through USPS won’t technically be a heavy package. Under this weight limit, your packages could still seem heavy, so you may need to pack accordingly and be mindful of how you fill the boxes and protect your items.  Boxes Choose a durable box that’s large enough for the item and appropriate filler. If you reuse a box, make sure all logos and writing are completely crossed out.  Closure  Close the box with all flaps down and seal with tape. The packaging tape you use should be at least 2 inches wide.  Pricing Generally, pricing is determined through the USPS Flat Rates or through the package weight and destination.  To get the most up-to-date information on weights and standards, view the general packaging guidelines from USPS. USPS Guidelines for Large Packages  Size The Postal Service will ship packages up to 130 inches length and girth combined through their Retail Ground service. Normally, their limit is 108 inches.  Large Packages That are Lightweight  Flat Rate pricing applies for packages up to 70 pounds which allows you to use size to determine pricing. If you’re unsure, check with your local post office.  Read more about USPS guidelines.  By controlling costs and being smart about shipping, you can increase your profits. Don’t be afraid to experiment with shipping and look for the right shipping improvements for you.  Are You Ready to Grow Your eCommerce Business With Nexcess Managed Hosting? In addition to the shipping strategies we’ve listed here, a great hosting plan can be instrumental to growing your business. Fortunately, Nexcess has you covered. Our Managed WooCommerce hosting plan is ideal for growing businesses. Specially designed to convert more sales, Nexcess’s managed hosting for eCommerce is packed with cutting-edge technologies to reduce query load times and cart abandonment rates. Best of all, our plans arm you with more than 20 different performance tests so you’ll know you can accommodate tons of web traffic. Nexcess also offers a Managed Magento plan which makes sure your site stays safe, is backed up, gives you staging sites, and auto scaling so when you get a lucky traffic spike your website stays online to accept all of those payments. The post Ecommerce Tips: How to Ship Large and Heavy Items appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Is Safe Harbor Right For You?

If you’re a Magento developer or systems integrator you’ve likely been bombarded by emails, blog posts, and notices that end-of-life (EOL) is coming. That means no new features & no security patches which puts Magento 1 stores at risk. While many store owners are preparing to migrate to Magento 2 or other ecommerce platforms, some will simply not be ready before Magento 1 reaches EOL to take strategic action. If you’re still trying to figure out the right course of action for your clients or for your Magento store follow our decision tree. Safe Harbor enables businesses to keep their sites on Magento 1 after EOL by providing security and technology updates for an extended period of time. So, whether you’re still weighing your options, or already have plans to migrate, Safe Harbor can offer the flexibility you need until you’re ready to move off of Magento 1. The post Is Safe Harbor Right For You? appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Now More Than Ever: The Fundamentals of Management Matter

Executive Vice President and General Manager of Nexcess and Liquid Web on adapting and maintaining personal connections while managing teams remotely. A remote work situation requires the same fundamentals of managing people and maintaining the community of an office environment — it just magnifies the importance of diligently sticking to the fundamentals. Now more than ever, the fundamentals of team management matter. In the face of current global realities, remote work is a gift, offering us the unique opportunity to innovate while, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of employees and their families.  As companies around the world are navigating how to best operate online, many managers brand new to remote team management are faced with the challenge of learning how to lead in an unfamiliar environment under stressful circumstances.  I’ve been managing remote teams for nearly three decades. For most of my career, I worked for companies that operated on a global level. Early on, I had to learn how to manage teams around the world, often through the challenge of employees across many different time zones. In some roles, 100% of employees telecommuted. In others, only 15% worked from outside the office. In many ways, because I’ve built a career in technology, I’ve had broad exposure to the ins and outs of the trials many managers are now tasked with navigating.  Here are some strategies for managing remote teams.  Re-review individual objectives. If you are a manager or leader, take the time to re-review each individual’s objectives and recognize where specifics may have shifted. Perhaps more time may be needed on some projects, or adjustments need to be made for projects requiring physical presence.  As an individual contributor, seek clarity about moving forward under new circumstances. Clarity is critical in times of uncertainty – seek it out at all levels. Set ground rules. When embarking on a new way of working—especially with teams who are newly working together remotely—it is vitally important to have frank discussions about how the team wants to work and what your expectations are from each other. What time of day can you depend on them to be online? Under what conditions will they be unavailable, and how will they let you know? By level setting ground rules, you provide helpful structures for what will become the new norm of interaction.  Check-in often and individually with your team members. The power of maintaining personal connections is vital for all remote teams, but its importance cannot be understated in times of uncertainty. It can be tempting to just drop a note on Slack to check on your team. Resist this. Setup individual check-ins with each member. Do it often. Allow time for chit chat and asking about family.  Check in daily with brief video chats. Connect virtually over a cup of coffee. Technology is incredible, but it is imperative that, as often as possible, we maintain the personal connections that make us human.  Decide which office rituals you’ll maintain online as a team. Take some time to determine which regular meetings are essential and should continue taking place with your remote team. But just as important as deciding which structures to maintain is understanding what you can let go of. Do you need to force everyone to sit through a four hour video call? Probably not. Determine what things are important, what you’re going to gather for, and what you’re going to decide to let go of for a while.  Commit to fully engaging when the team is together. When working remotely, probably the greatest challenge is managing distractions—both your teams’ and your own. When you’re not face-to-face with someone, it can be difficult to make sure that everyone is giving their full attention, but it’s essential for both morale and productivity.   A remote work situation requires all of the same fundamentals of managing people and maintaining the community of an office environment—it just magnifies their importance.   When you’re physically separated from your team, it can be tempting to do things like sort through emails while you’re on conference calls. You have to resist these urges and offer your full attention. Set up dedicated times in the morning and afternoon to tend to your email so that your team knows you’re fully present and expect them to be, as well. There’s so much you can get away with if you’re all in one room. While working remotely, it’s important to pay attention to basics around how to run a good meeting.  Encourage trust. For people new to remote work, one of the most crucial parts of building a healthy and productive work environment is wrapping your mind around the fact that you’re going to have to trust people. Trust that your team members will get the job done. This confidence will allow them to trust you, too.  Determine your responsibility. You have a responsibility as much as your teammates to be online and communicative and trustworthy. The best way to do this is to put a schedule in place and stick to it. A lot of people think working from home is rolling out of bed and going about your day in pajamas, but getting up and showering and getting dressed can really help to put you in a ready-to-work, focused mindset. Find the place in your home in which you can be most productive. Face your day the same as you would face it if you were going out.  Just as in team management, the fundamentals of how you care of yourself are also magnified and take on a greater importance when working from home—especially as we confront the possibility of long stretches in isolated environments. Eat nourishing foods. Drink lots of water. Set up a space that makes you feel good. Schedule short breaks that allow you to get up and walk around between meetings. Move your body and remember to check in with yourself. Make sure you’re caring for your physical and mental wellbeing.  We are all making adjustments to the ways we live and work. There is so much right now that feels out of our control. What we can control is how we show up for our community and how we can encourage them to show up for one another. We do not have to lose our sense of togetherness—we can strengthen it. This experience will push us out of our comfort zones, but that is the space where growth can take place.  You will get to know your co-workers in this period in ways you would not have before. You’ll get to know their pets and partners and kids. Frustrations will arise, of course, but do your best to embrace and enjoy the moments of joy and spontaneity that will accompany this new way of working.  Let us also embrace this as an opportunity to innovate how we think, operate, and work together. We will all come through this changed. My hope is that we are changed for the better, forging community in new ways, and understanding what it truly means to be a team. The post Now More Than Ever: The Fundamentals of Management Matter appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

7 Ecommerce Analytics Tools You Might Not be Using

Although there are many data analytics tools available, most people continue to associate ecommerce analytics with Google Analytics. While it’s the standard choice, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice for measuring your ecommerce business. Many of the most powerful analytics tools are tailored for a specific facet of ecommerce including brand management, customer data, or something in-between. If you are looking to supplement Google Analytics or replace it with another analytics platform, our list of effective data analytics tools can help.  Leads and Customer Data Analytics Tools Customer acquisition and retention ultimately drive most ecommerce business decisions. More customers mean more sales which in turn means more revenue. For this reason, data analytics tools that focus on your leads and customer data (like Kissmetrics and Leadfeeder) can be central to your technology stack for your ecommerce business. 1. Leadfeeder At first, the features seem narrow or limited in scope, but Leadfeeder is an ideal and comprehensive tool for many businesses. While other tools track pageviews and customer data, Leadfeeder actually tracks companies that are shopping an online store. This makes it an ideal analytics tool for ecommerce businesses in the B2B space. Leadfeeder has deep integration with Google Analytics — potentially adding a new dimension to Google Analytics data. But Leadfeeder also works with popular customer relationship management (CRM) tools including WebCRM, Pipedrive, and Salesforce. Besides tracking the companies that visit your ecommerce site, Leadfeeder has other compelling features. For example, you can select specific companies or organizations that you would especially like to convert and have Leadfeeder notify you by email whenever someone from one of those companies visits your site. This gives you the chance to follow-up and further warm a lead, making Leadfeeder an effective selling tool. Cost: Variable. Lite version (up to 100 leads and 7-day history) is free. Premium version starts at $53 per-month. Web Analytics and SEO A core metric of web analytics is tracking movements. For example, who is visiting your site, how they are interacting with your site, and what brought them there in the first place. These data points provide important direction for your ecommerce business. The data will show you which keywords drive the most traffic and the value of your backlinking strategy for conversion. 2. Gauges Gauges is an up-and-coming web data analytics tool that is most notable for providing real-time insight into the traffic that your ecommerce store is getting. The platform is also lauded for its clean, user-friendly interface that puts the most pertinent information front and center. Gauges was designed to be flexible and highly scalable. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from its live data tracking capabilities. Business owners who use Gauges appreciate that there’s no delay between a pageview or other engagement event, and the data being reflected in the platform. Plus, Gauges offers you a “bird’s eye view” so you can see what someone who is currently on your site is seeing. Besides live data, Gauges offers other features that are common among web data analytics tools. These include keyword tracking, conversion tracking, referral tracking, and campaign management. The main drawback to Gauges is the thin integration support. However, even without official integration, Gauges is a very compact, non-invasive tool. It plays nicely with most other tools that you may be using simultaneously. Once you have a Gauges subscription, the platform allows you to install the tool on an unlimited number of websites that the tab-based interface keeps very organized and accessible. Cost: Variable. Starts at $6 per-month for 100,000 pageviews. Offers a 14-day free trial. 3. SEMrush SEMrush is a very versatile analytics tool. In fact, its ability to cover nearly your entire ecommerce technology stack has made it one of the top data analytics tools outside of Google Analytics.  At its core, SEMrush is a robust SEO platform that is also a capable web analytics tool. For small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses, SEMrush is a popular choice for keyword tracking, search monitoring, and gathering important metrics like pageviews, referrals, and the performance of paid advertising campaigns. The platform also has some unique features including the ability to monitor your competitors, analyze the content on your site, audit your backlinks, and track what people are saying about your brand on social media. SEMrush has a breadth of data visualization options, as well as the ability to customize your reports. For instance, you can have the graphs and charts on the main dashboard showing the performance of a handful of keywords that you’re trying to rank. So instead of forcing you into a certain view, SEMrush provides a variety of tools that you can use in whichever ways are best for your ecommerce business. The downside to SEMrush is that there can be a bit of a learning curve, particularly with its somewhat complicated user interface. However, SEMrush does integrate with all the major social networks as well as WordPress, Trello, and virtually every cloud service Google offers. It’s no surprise that companies like eBay, PayPal, Forbes, and Wells Fargo are among SEMrush’s subscribers. Cost: Variable. Starts at $99 per-month. Offers 7-day money back guarantee instead of a free trial. Brand Management and Social Media Analytics Tools For an ecommerce business, social media is an incredibly important marketing channel. In the absence of physical retail, social media is often the most effective way for ecommerce businesses to strengthen relationships with customers. As a result, social media analytics tools are core to rolling out a successful sales and marketing strategy.  4. Keyhole While many social media analytics tools track your brand, Keyhole is one of the most full featured tools in the market today. In fact, it largely makes up for the narrowness of its scope by offering impactful features like hashtag analytics and in-depth data tracking of your social media accounts. As a brand management tool, Keyhole provides a complete picture of how your audience sees your brand. You can even track specific keywords or phrases. This is particularly useful when users don’t tag or mention your social media accounts in their posts. Keyhole also tracks your influencer marketing campaigns. You get full access to relevant engagement and conversion metrics for influencer content including estimates for your return on investment. There’s also versatility in reporting. You can filter and sort influencers based upon specific attributes like audience size and content engagement rates. Businesses of any size can benefit from this effective social media analytics tool. Rather than choosing from the Twitter or Facebook analytics tools available, Keyhole integrates with all major social networks including YouTube, aggregating your mentions across all of these popular platforms in one central dashboard. Cost: Variable. Starts at $26 per-month (billed annually). Offers a 7-day free trial. 5. BrandMentions BrandMentions is unique compared to other social media analytics tools because of its holistic approach. While the service offers in-depth data tracking, the focus of BrandMentions is to track the emotional response your audience has to your brand.  This is perhaps most apparent with the “sentiment meter” which is a concise visual representation of how your audience sees your brand. Each impression from your customers affects this meter, and you can set alerts for when there’s a social media post that falls below a certain level on your sentiment meter. This allows you to have a more proactive hand in solidifying a positive reputation for your ecommerce business. BrandMentions also lets you do “competitor spying.” In short, this means you can track your competitors on social media — almost like your competitors’ social accounts were your own. By tracking the social media presence of your competitors, you can see what they’re doing and most importantly, find ways to do it better. The idea is to help your business be more visible and garner stronger, more positive feedback. As a social media analytics tool, BrandMentions is effective for businesses of any size. The biggest weakness of BrandMentions is the very minimal integration options. In fact, you’ll need a tool like Zapier to enable something as simple as real-time notifications. Cost: Variable. Starts at $49 per-month with user and keyword limitations. Offers a 14-day free trial. Ecommerce Analytics Tools Ecommerce analytics tools help you track sales and grow your business. They give you insight into customer behavior from tracking products often left abandoned in shopping carts, to finding the most relevant products to upsell. 6. Crazy Egg Crazy Egg is among the most popular data analytics tools for ecommerce. That’s because it has features that are useful for online retail businesses of any size. Arguably the most notable of Crazy Egg’s features is its heatmap. It’s an invisible layer placed over your ecommerce store, offering a thermal visualization of the “warmer” parts of a page that get the most activity. A heatmap is a useful at-a-glance representation of how your customers are interacting with your ecommerce store. For instance, you can use a heatmap to find out whether your customers are seeing and responding to your call-to-action. Aside from the heatmap, Crazy Egg offers robust A/B testing for your ecommerce store. This makes it very simple to test variants of landing or product listings so you can determine which generates the most sales. There’s even a user recording feature that does exactly what it sounds like. It creates “recordings” of each user’s experience that you can play back like a video. Crazy Egg is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a tool to better understand how customers are interacting with your ecommerce store. In terms of integration, Crazy Egg supports WordPress, as well as Google Cloud services. Cost: Variable. Starts at $24 per-month (billed annually) for 30,000 pageviews and 100 user recordings. Offers a 14-day free trial. 7. Glew.io Whether you’re a multi-channel retailer or a humble online store, Glew.io is one of the best ecommerce analytics tools around. The platform has almost everything you could want: a familiar, WordPress-like interface with tons of reporting options, in-depth customer tracking, order management, and even financial data to complete the picture. As an ecommerce analytics tool, Glew.io tracks many key product metrics and allows you to quickly distinguish top-selling products from those that generate the least profit, or products with the highest overhead from those with the lowest margins. In short, Glew.io provides tons of useful, actionable insights to strengthen your ecommerce business. Additionally, it’s designed for multi-channel retail, meaning Glew.io tracks sales from each platform you use. It can also pull data from your Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Google AdWords campaigns to give you a complete picture of your ecommerce store’s performance.  With more than 30 integrations for WooCommerce and other top platforms — including marketing automation, point-of-sale, shipping management, and enterprise resource planning tools — Glew.io is useful for ecommerce businesses of any size and revenue. Plus, there are more integrations being added regularly.  Cost: Variable. Starts at $169 per-month with a 36-month agreement. Offers a 10-day free trial. Editor’s note: If you want to save some money and get a plethora of data at your fingertips you can signup for our Growth plan which includes Glew.io. Using Analytics Tools That Help You Make Smarter Choices There are a ton of analytics tools for ecommerce businesses. And while Google Analytics is a great place to get started, you won’t be able to answer all of the questions your business will have using that tool alone. We think the most robust solution is one where you use several data analytics tools simultaneously. This is one of the many reasons why we include Glew.io in our Growth plan for Managed WooCommerce hosting.  Ultimately, you should use services that help you better understand your customers, gauge the success of your advertising campaigns, and generally make smarter choices for your business. The post 7 Ecommerce Analytics Tools You Might Not be Using appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

6 Tips for Working from Home During Quarantine

As we all move online, many of us are finding out how hard it is to stay focused while working from home. Your office space can have a big impact on your productivity. The last thing you want is to be searching for your mouse under a pile of paperwork, right? So, how do you focus and keep productive?  Develop a morning routine.  Whether you keep your morning routine the same as you would if you were going into the office, or build a whole new one. A morning routine gets you into the right headspace and helps you separate your work day from your home life.  Separate space if possible. It’s probably a good idea not to work from a couch or your bed (places where you typically relax) because either you won’t be as productive, or you’ll start to associate your relaxation spots with work spots and be stressed out in your own bed. And don’t let partners/roommates interrupt you when you’re in that space. If you don’t have a separate space then wear headphones to signal you’re working. Set a schedule.  Make sure you set a start time and an end time. Setting a time to be done working for the day is important or you might just keep churning through things. Setting a “done” time also forces you to use your waking hours more efficiently. It is equally as important to set breaks. It’s really easy to stay glued to your desk and before you know it the day is over.  Take time for lunch or if it’s nice out, sit outside or walk the block. Make sure you get up from your desk every 30-45 minutes. Declutter your space and mind It’s not exciting, but setting up some proper storage and ensuring your workspace is neat and tidy is key to making sure you stay productive. Keep your office space tidy: shut away clutter, and try to keep cables and wires to a minimum. Keep your phone nearby if there’s a call but out of sight so that you are not constantly looking at it when you get notifications. Burn a candle for ambience/create a relaxing environment.  It might not be top of your list, but this tip appeals to our sense of smell for added motivation. Every room needs a scent to complete it. Fragrances can really influence our mood, so opt for something invigorating in your work space.  Find the right sound Like smell, sound can help you stay focused and motivated so have the right playlist ready to tackle your to-do list. If the noise of your full house or the silence of your apartment is driving you insane, tune in to a playlist that will help get you in the zone.  Don’t Isolate yourself.  The most important thing missing while working from home can be human contact. Connecting on social media might be causing anxiety and stress, but there are ways to keep in contact without seeing all the news. Create a Google Hangout or a Zoom meeting to meet with friends and family. Facebook Messenger and Facetime can help you connect easily with your community. You can use slack to play games, or the Google extension Netflix Party to watch Tiger King with friends. The post 6 Tips for Working from Home During Quarantine appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Supercharge WooCommerce with HubSpot

As a website / store builder, you know that tracking actionable customer interactions is key to increasing conversions. HubSpot is an industry leading suite of customer relationship tools designed to help merchants stay connected with customers during every part of the customer lifecycle. It’s no wonder then, that pairing the customer relationship superpowers of HubSpot with the technological and publishing superpowers of WordPress creates a powerful solution for staying in touch with, and marketing to future and current customers. Let’s take a look at a few integrations between HubSpot and WooCommerce and see how they can improve your client’s online store. So What’s HubSpot Anyway? Think of HubSpot as a customer relationship swiss army knife that helps with marketing, sales, and service. Whether you’re tracking relationships with customers, creating landing pages, communicating with site visitors, or keeping tabs on customer service inquiries, HubSpot’s suite of tools can help. Integrating with HubSpot What’s even better than free expertly crafted tools? Tools that are easy to integrate. Here are two ways to integrate HubSpot directly into your client’s WordPress site. 1) The HubSpot WordPress Plugin HubSpot’s WordPress integration is pretty awesome, and they’ve made it easy to get started. In-fact, the onboarding process is so good, all you have to do is download the plugin and follow the welcome wizard.  When you’re done you can select which tools you want to incorporate on the site. 2) Zapier Integration The more information you have about your customer the better. When you connect WooCommerce to HubSpot via a Zapier integration, you’ll be able to add new customers to deals, add prospects to workflows based on their product interests, and more.  As data streams into HubSpot, you’ll be able to make manual and automated decisions on how to follow up with customers to close more sales. The Zapier integration helps you get more data about your customers from WooCommerce into HubSpot so you can act on that data. But this integration doesn’t help you pull HubSpot features onto your site. Incorporating HubSpot’s Free Tools Once you have your website connected to HubSpot it’s time to pull in some of their great features. Robust Form Builder Building and integrating a form to generate leads should only take a few minutes with HubSpot. First, create a form in HubSpot using their drag & drop form builder. Then, embed the form on any page in your client’s WordPress site with a simple shortcode or Gutenberg block. Live Chat A great way to add additional value to a store is to give customers an easy way to communicate back and forth with the store owner. In fact, some studies indicate that conversion rate increases with the use of live chat. Hubspot’s Live Chat feature is a perfect way to quickly and easily integrate and test this valuable feature on your client’s website.  In your HubSpot account enable live chat, choose a theme, and away you go. The best part is that the chat functionality integrates directly with your client’s HubSpot account to keep track of visitor interactions as they move through the funnel and become customers.  In terms of extra setup there is none. The HubSpot for WordPress plugin takes care of the entire implementation for you. Managing HubSpot Contacts Finally, it’s nice to know that you can manage HubSpot contacts right within the WordPress dashboard. Keep track of online and offline interactions with contacts by using this simple yet powerful dashboard right inside the WordPress admin. If you think the these free integrations are great, the premium integration by MakeWebBetter connects even more HubSpot functionality directly to WooCommerce like: Syncing WooCommerce users, orders and products in realtime.Syncing historical customer data with a click.Quickly incorporating HubSpot workflows. Hubspot is a well respected & incredibly powerful tool for any store or website owner. Their tools help store owners maintain great relationships with their customers to keep them coming back again and again. Interested in integrating with HubSpot? Follow their documentation on how to integrate with WordPress. The post Supercharge WooCommerce with HubSpot appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Magento 1 Migration: How to Save Your Budget and Stay Secure

COVID-19 is actively changing our world, but before this global pandemic many online stores were already facing a massive change. Our Magento Product Expert, Miguel Balparda was recently a guest on MageCloud’s Webinar “Magento 1 Migration: How to Save Your Budget and Stay Secure” to show how Nexcess Safe Harbor can extend your Magento 1 site’s life during this pandemic and beyond. Watch the video below.  Talk to a Magento expert now to see how to stay safe on M1 The post Magento 1 Migration: How to Save Your Budget and Stay Secure appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Coronavirus Preparedness

Nexcess has been closely monitoring the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and guidance as issued by government and health authorities. As of yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic with regards to the coronavirus.  While our infrastructure and planning is always ready for these types of scenarios we wanted to let you know that we have activated a Virtual Command Center to take additional precautionary measures for our employees so that they can continue to provide the high level of support you’ve come to expect. Operations are our lifeblood and we are committed to our customers to keep your business online while also keeping our employees safe. While our offices and data center locations are secure, we’ve implemented several precautionary measures to focus on the health and safety of our customers and employees: We have increased the timing of our cleaning protocols for all facilities and are disinfecting high traffic areas daily. Hand sanitizer stations have been placed along with high traffic areas for use by both customers and employees. Employees have been briefed on the importance of maintaining a clean and safe environment and on our communication and action plans regarding COVID-19. We have restricted employee travel. In addition we have engaged with our suppliers to understand their Pandemic Response plans. In addition to the above, we’re closely monitoring the health of our employees on a daily basis. If an employee shows any signs of illness, we are encouraging them to seek a medical diagnosis and work from home until cleared by a medical professional or until the symptoms pass. Access to any Nexcess facility will be closely monitored, and anyone showing symptoms or anyone who has traveled to an area with known high-transmission of COVID-19 may have restricted access. In the event an outbreak occurs in the area of one of our facilities, we’re prepared to activate our Pandemic Response Plan and do the following: Ensure regular digital communication with our customers and employees, including the possibility of increased access restrictions to our facilities. Activate minimum on-site staffing levels to provide continuity of our services at a 24/7/365 level and allow non-essential employees to work from home. Ensure sufficient resources are available for our on-site employees to continue to safely operate. Continue to review guidance from local, state and federal government agencies and implement updated action plans as needed. At Nexcess our high level of support and ensuring your business is supported at all times is of the utmost importance to us. The health and safety of our employees is a priority as well, and these plans will help us ensure we’re doing our best to keep both in mind. As you monitor the situation and consider your own continuity plans, Nexcess is prepared to help in any capacity needed. More information on the coronavirus is available here: World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html If you have any questions, please contact us at 1-866-639-2377 or submit a ticket via the portal. The post Coronavirus Preparedness appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Don’t Settle for Just Any Port in the Storm

Nexcess Safe Harbor is the Haven Magento Stores Need The currents and undercurrents of Magento’s strategy are ever changing. One day it’s smooth sailing with technology that simply performs, propelling sales and service; the next day they are raising the anchor, and creating a wake of disruption that the entire ecosystem must brace themselves to withstand.  Every ecommerce based solution relies on understanding what lies beneath the surface, so it’s vital that your platform delivers the speed, security, scalability and service demanded by today’s pace of online business. These tenets are the four points of our operational compass here at Nexcess – relied upon and trusted by our customers as they navigate their best paths forward.  Recognizing that Magento’s (M1) platform end of life (EOL) is now just a few months away, we’re excited to offer Nexcess Safe Harbor designed especially for those who can’t afford to – or need more time to strategize – or don’t wish to migrate to M2. As the leading hosting provider for M1 stores for more than ten years, we come to this changing tide with deep experience to accommodate whichever direction keeps you afloat  and ensures your online stores remain uninterrupted. All buoyed by the expertise that is embodied in every single one of our amazing people who stand by ready to assist you today and support you tomorrow.  Nexcess Safe Harbor is designed to align with your long-term growth plans because it’s optimized by open source efficiencies – to include costs and community-based expertise. This is a stark differentiator for us compared to closed (SaaS) platforms like Shopify which can cost you more time and money, while limiting your options and future innovation  opportunities.   There are three core options to consider over the coming weeks:  Stay the course on M1 with Nexcess Safe Harbor via a simple dev supported free migration that comes with regular updates, patches, scans, modules, and extensions; Migrate from M1 to M2 with support from us at every turn as you implement your migration plan to a new platform that will accommodate your increase in customers and inventories.  Connect with us about alternative platforms that can meet the needs of ecommerce enterprises large and small, from high-paced to mid-level to newly launched. You are never without resources and expertise when working with the Nexcess team. As you explore what steps to take in the coming months, I hope you will call on our team to help answer any questions you have to make the most informed decision for your business. We can show you the pros and cons of a particular path, and help you decide which platform best meets your needs for near and long-term growth. Your business journey is never-ending and ideally always enjoys smooth sailing. But we know that rough waters are unavoidable – so don’t settle for just any port. Your livelihood relies on keeping a vigilant eye on the horizon, and Nexcess Safe Harbor will see you through the storm.  The post Don’t Settle for Just Any Port in the Storm appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Caching in WooCommerce

Fundamentals and Implementation of WooCommerce Cache Speed is paramount when it comes to ecommerce. Whether you’re chasing down better search rankings or attempting to curb cart abandonment, the speed at which a store loads can determine how many customers convert. Caching in WooCommerce is an essential performance tuning tool that can dramatically decrease page load time. In this article you’ll learn about two techniques to help you cache your WooCommerce store and how it can increase the performance & speed of your store. A quick note before getting started: Underlying code and database performance issues should be addressed before implementing a caching layer. What slows a website down? On a web server, complex computer processes are most often triggered by code (ex. PHP for WordPress and WooCommerce) and database queries (ex. MySQL).Submitting commands (whether PHP, MySQL or another programming language) for a computer to process generally happens quickly.  What takes precious time is waiting for the computer to process the information and deliver the results to the potential customer waiting in front of their computer screen. When requests become complex or there are too many requests for a server to process then you’ll want to look into three methods to speed the interaction up: caching, concurrency (increasing PHP workers), and reducing complexity (making code more efficient). What is caching? When a user requests a web page (like a homepage) that isn’t cached, every time the page is requested, database queries are executed, PHP code runs, and the resulting page is displayed in the customer’s web browser. The entire process can happen pretty quickly.  If many database queries are required, the logic to draw a page is complex, or you have a high volume of traffic, the process of outputting the page to the visitor can slow considerably, which means longer than normal wait times. Caching is the process of converting a piece of dynamic data into a static resource. Or put another way, caching is the process of saving the results of a request from a complex computer process and re-routing future identical requests directly to the result, skipping the computer processing. Output caching, also called full page caching When it comes to pages that don’t change very often (like content pages such as an About Us page), output caching is a great technique to create a fast experience for potential customers. Here’s how it works:   A web page (for instance a product category page) is requested by a potential customer. When the page is requested, WooCommerce interacts with the database to determine which products to show along with the pricing, description, images etc. After WooCommerce has completed the interaction with the database, the results are saved in HTML and JavaScript on the web server.  This cached HTML is served every time someone visits the same page.    There are a ton of full page / output caching plugins on the market. My favorite is WP Rocket because it has a slick user interface that makes configuration a snap. A great free option is Cache Enabler, and it’s available in the WordPress.org repository. Object caching, and speeding up database access In some common ecommerce use cases, we might not want to cache the entire page of the website. For instance, we might not want to cache order status, shopping cart, or product pages with customer specific pricing as these pages might change more often than an output cache is refreshed. So, if we can’t cache the entire page, and the database is the bottleneck, caching queries to the database is a great way to speed things up — that’s exactly what object caching is all about.  Consider for a moment that a customer might switch between a product page with customer specific pricing, shopping cart, and order status pages multiple times during their logged in session. On a site not integrated with an object cache, the database would receive a request to process a search every time a user switched between these dynamic pages.  Here’s how object caching works to make database interactions quicker: A query is presented to the database server via PHP code. When query results are requested, the database searches to find the result. After the database finds the results, they’re saved in a cache on the database server.  This cached result is served every time a piece of code requests the same query.  When object caching is enabled, dynamic parts of a WooCommerce website will load quicker and put less strain on the database server leading to a better experience for the end user. Setting Up Redis Redis a popular object caching tool and can be difficult to set up depending on your skill level and the level of server access that’s provided by your host. For a simple setup, Redis comes automatically set up for all Managed WooCommerce plans at Nexcess. Or if you want, you can set it up yourself. A quick note on troubleshooting While implementing caching can lead to awesome performance gains, it can also make it more difficult to troubleshoot output issues. Remember to disable caching when trying to uncover an output issue.  Caching in WooCommerce is an essential tool for dramatically improving the performance of your store. Have caching questions? Feel free to give us a shout day or night. We’re here for you. The post Caching in WooCommerce appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

7 Types of WordPress Sites That Are Easy to Set Up

When deciding what platform to build a website on, one of the more common questions is about what types of websites WordPress hosts. The answer? Anything! While you can do just about anything with a WordPress site, we wanted to focus on seven easy sites you can build without getting too in the weeds. 1. Personal Blogging Sites Personal blogs are what WordPress was built on. And as the CMS platform has grown and expanded into other types of websites, their blogging platform has only gotten better. They are more robust and polished than ever, and with hundreds of different themes, it’s easy to customize the look and feel to whatever your blog is about, whether it’s food, lifestyle, travel, or anything else. 2. Business Sites Business sites vary in terms of size, but remain consistent in terms of professionalism. Business sites often work best when created with the help of a developer — someone who can help to create a truly unique experience for your users (one that converts). WordPress also allows you to scale your site so it can grow as you do and utilize many different types of WordPress pages. Some things to think about here are themes and SEO. For your business site to do well, it has to be easily found through search engines. The good news is that WordPress offers great SEO plugins that you can take advantage of. 3. Education and Membership sites Education and membership sites have expanded what you can do with a WordPress site. They haven’t always been part of the WordPress platform, but with the introduction of plugins like MemberPass, creating them has become simple. MemberPass is easy to set up, affords you with powerful access rules, and works with any theme you can throw at it. 4. Portfolio Websites Portfolio websites are great to display your work, whether it be writing, graphic design, web design, or something else. These types of WordPress sites are simple to create and maintain. The biggest consideration here will again be themes — luckily, WordPress has many different options for unique portfolio layouts. 5. Photography Websites Whether you’re a professional or hobby photographer, having a site to display your images is important. Photography WordPress sites are very similar to portfolio sites, but the themes are more specific to highlighting photos. These plugins provide incredible and seamless lightboxes meant to make your photos stand out. 6. Community Websites Community websites are great because you don’t make the content – your community does! But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t focus on the design aspect. Pick a theme and everything else should fall into place.  The most important part of community websites — similar to other types of WordPress sites — is the plugins, which will help you set up and navigate forums on your new site. Plugins like bbPress are a great place to start. bbPress is one of the most popular forum plugins available. It offers a deep WordPress integration, which means faster forums and a better user experience. Luckily, bbPress is also easy to set up and comes with customizable templates for creating a forum unlike any other.  7. Ecommerce Sites Ecommerce sites are made for large and small businesses to sell goods, and integrate very well into different types of WordPress sites. WooCommerce is an easy tool to get your online store up and running smoothly! Nexcess offers multiple Managed WooCommerce hosting plans to suit your ecommerce needs, all of which come industry-leading speed, support, security, and scalability. Conclusion Whatever types of websites you run, you need to make sure that you’re on the right foundation. This means working with a managed hosting solution. Take advantage of automatic plugin and WordPress updates, industry-leading performance optimizations, and security mechanisms that will keep your site locked down. These give you time to focus on what you do best: developing an incredible site.  The post 7 Types of WordPress Sites That Are Easy to Set Up appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

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