Industry Buzz

Why Usability is Important for Web Design

The Moo's News (FatCow Blog) -

Any new web design is an opportunity to start fresh. It’s the perfect time to re-evaluate your goals and what your site is truly supposed to do. Many businesses have an established brand, and those who don’t are keen to develop one so they’re instantly recognizable to clients and prospects alike. It may be easy then, in the rush to make your mark on the Internet, to rely on your own aesthetic judgment, inspiration and ideas for web design trends in 2014. But web design should never be based primarily on the preferences of the designer or the business. Those can and should play an important role, but the true star of the show should be usability. Usability is so important, in fact, that even the government has gotten in on the discussion. Over at Usability.gov you will find in-depth, research-based resources for learning and implementing usability on your site. So, then, what the heck is “usability” in the world of web design? Usability refers to the ease with which an intended visitor can learn what your site is about and make use of it for its intended purpose. It’s important because every website has a purpose, and a frustrated visitor is going to leave and probably isn’t going to come back. So the easier it is to discover your site’s purpose and use your site for that purpose, the happier your visitors. Many of the tips and tricks you’ll find about usability in web design boil down to one very simple requirement: Be Crystal Clear. Simplicity is what you might call the “Golden Rule” of usability in web design. It means your users should have an enjoyable and productive experience, whether that means learning something, converting to a customer or just getting to know your brand. And, as it turns out, following that rule will also make your site prepared for success on a number of other fronts, as well. For example, building a usable site forces you to decide the nature of your content, the focus of your topics and whom exactly you are hoping to reach with your site. These are all vital aspects of building a business and a website. But they are often overlooked in the rush to launch a site. Dedication to usability will keep you on the path to building the most effective website not only from a design perspective, but from a content development and target audience perspective, as well. Also, sites designed with usability in mind employ headings, menus, topic-specific pages to get their message across to visitors. It just so happens that these things also help your site look more attractive to search engines. As search engines scour the web for original, engaging content, they keep an eye out for big-picture indicators like headings because they signal an organized, well thought out website. In addition, designing with usability front and center also makes it easier to produce an accessible website. Accessibility is the measure of how easy it is for people with certain motor and sensory impairments to use your website. That includes keeping in mind visitors with vision impairments, those unable to use a mouse, and many other limitations on how someone can interact with a website.  The intersection of usability and accessibility is well-known and because the two topics are related, you can maximize your potential audience by referring to both concepts as you design your site. So there you have it: usability is important for web design because users who have a great experience will convert, and help you build that ever-important brand. What questions do you have about usability? Please comment below.        

Weebly eCommerce 1.1 is live!

The Weebly Blog -

We are proud to announce the first major update to Weebly eCommerce this year with today’s release of eCommerce 1.1. This update includes everything from brand new features to light workflow tweaks designed to simplify and improve the store management process. Here’s a breakdown of the major elements that we think you’ll enjoy the most. Coupon Builder The coupon builder gives you everything you need to create and manage a powerful couponing system right from your store dashboard. Drive more sales and keep customers coming back with fully customized coupons for everything in your store inventory. The new coupon interface allows you to tailor new coupons by code, date, and quantity. You can drill down further with advanced settings, allowing you to define discount type (percentage based or dollar-based) and criteria (all orders, orders over a certain amount, only certain products, only certain categories). The new coupon feature even calculates free shipping coupons based on distribution locations. The coupon builder dashboard lets you easily manage multiple coupons. Track dates and other measures with a super simple management interface. The coupon builder is available as part of the Business Plan. Product Options We’ve reimagined the Product Options experience and created a more intuitive interface for generating and organizing product options for your store. We wanted to give you a better way to create and manage multiple SKUs while allowing you to build detailed product segments.The new experience makes it easy to build accurate product options based on size, color, or  any other product modification. Your input will generate multiple SKUs automatically, drastically improving bulk product variant creation and editing.  Once your SKUs are created, keyboard-based navigation through each field makes it easy to edit and tweak your product options post assignment. Anyone who remembers product options editing from the first eCommerce release will definitely appreciate these changes! Personalized Email You can now include custom messaging in default emails sent to your store customers. Located in the store settings interface, the new email dashboard allows you to edit email header and footer content in order to provide a customer experience tailored specifically to your store brand.Additional features include one-click test email setup and a custom reply-to address. Notification Box We know that managing and building a store can be daunting, so we’ve introduced a lightweight notification system designed to assist, but not get in the way, of your wonderful work. Notifications focus on important pending issues (like SSL or Stripe connections) based on your store’s current status. You won’t be spammed by irrelevant or unnecessary messages.  Yeah, there’s more...Some more additions from eCommerce 1.1 that we think you’ll find helpful Set Category Image -  If you don’t have a specific image for your category this feature will use the first product image in the category as the default. This saves a setup step and helps improve storefront visuals.Vertical Category Listing - You can now move category listings into a vertical navigation position. This feature is especially useful if you have a large number of categories to display.  It’s important to note that many of the eCommerce 1.1 changes came as a direct result of your feedback! We hope these latest updates help you build an amazing online store with greater flexibility, security, and more easily than ever before. Now go give it a shot, and let us know what you think!

Weebly eCommerce 1.1 is live!

The Weebly Blog -

We are proud to announce the first major update to Weebly eCommerce this year with today’s release of eCommerce 1.1. This update includes everything from brand new features to light workflow tweaks designed to simplify and improve the store management process. Here’s a breakdown of the major elements that we think you’ll enjoy the most. Coupon Builder The coupon builder gives you everything you need to create and manage a powerful couponing system right from your store dashboard. Drive more sales and keep customers coming back with fully customized coupons for everything in your store inventory. The new coupon interface allows you to tailor new coupons by code, date, and quantity. You can drill down further with advanced settings, allowing you to define discount type (percentage based or dollar-based) and criteria (all orders, orders over a certain amount, only certain products, only certain categories). The new coupon feature even calculates free shipping coupons based on distribution locations. The coupon builder dashboard lets you easily manage multiple coupons. Track dates and other measures with a super simple management interface. The coupon builder is available as part of the Business Plan. Product Options We’ve reimagined the Product Options experience and created a more intuitive interface for generating and organizing product options for your store. We wanted to give you a better way to create and manage multiple SKUs while allowing you to build detailed product segments.The new experience makes it easy to build accurate product options based on size, color, or  any other product modification. Your input will generate multiple SKUs automatically, drastically improving bulk product variant creation and editing.  Once your SKUs are created, keyboard-based navigation through each field makes it easy to edit and tweak your product options post assignment. Anyone who remembers product options editing from the first eCommerce release will definitely appreciate these changes! Personalized Email You can now include custom messaging in default emails sent to your store customers. Located in the store settings interface, the new email dashboard allows you to edit email header and footer content in order to provide a customer experience tailored specifically to your store brand.Additional features include one-click test email setup and a custom reply-to address. Notification Box We know that managing and building a store can be daunting, so we’ve introduced a lightweight notification system designed to assist, but not get in the way, of your wonderful work. Notifications focus on important pending issues (like SSL or Stripe connections) based on your store’s current status. You won’t be spammed by irrelevant or unnecessary messages.  Yeah, there’s more...Some more additions from eCommerce 1.1 that we think you’ll find helpful Set Category Image -  If you don’t have a specific image for your category this feature will use the first product image in the category as the default. This saves a setup step and helps improve storefront visuals.Vertical Category Listing - You can now move category listings into a vertical navigation position. This feature is especially useful if you have a large number of categories to display.  It’s important to note that many of the eCommerce 1.1 changes came as a direct result of your feedback! We hope these latest updates help you build an amazing online store with greater flexibility, security, and more easily than ever before. Now go give it a shot, and let us know what you think!

WHMCS V5.3.3 RC2 Released

WHMCS Blog -

Today, WHMCS 5.3 Release Candidate 2 has been made available to our beta user group. If you enrolled in the beta testing program, you will be able to download this latest pre-release version from our Members Area. If you are not yet part of our beta testing user group and would like to get involved, please visit http://docs.whmcs.com/Beta_Testing to find out how. What is a Release Candidate? A release candidate (RC) is a pre-release version of our software that has completed the Beta phase of testing, and is now ready for the final testing prior to general release. All feature and maintenance development is complete, and it has the potential to be a final product. If no major bugs are found, the release will be made public. We would appreciate if you could take the time to install the RC on your development server and test any and all functionality you find important....

Affiliate programs and added value

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster level: AllOur quality guidelines warn against running a site with thin or scraped content without adding substantial added value to the user. Recently, we’ve seen this behavior on many video sites, particularly in the adult industry, but also elsewhere. These sites display content provided by an affiliate program—the same content that is available across hundreds or even thousands of other sites.If your site syndicates content that’s available elsewhere, a good question to ask is: “Does this site provide significant added benefits that would make a user want to visit this site in search results instead of the original source of the content?” If the answer is “No,” the site may frustrate searchers and violate our quality guidelines. As with any violation of our quality guidelines, we may take action, including removal from our index, in order to maintain the quality of our users’ search results. If you have any questions about our guidelines, you can ask them in our Webmaster Help Forum.Posted by Chris Nelson, Search Quality Team

Elements of an Effective Online Brand

Homestead Small Business Blog -

These days, the internet marketing world is a buzz with the power of “branding”.  Really, this isn’t surprising – in a digital world that’s so full of clutter you can barely click on a link for fear of a scam, it’s natural for people to seek out websites that make them feel safe.  And chances are if you’ve gone to all the effort to establish yourself as a known, reputable brand online, you likely aren’t going to waste the authority you’ve built up taking your readers for a ride.However, offering social proof to website visitors isn’t the only reason branding is more important now than ever before.  There’s also speculation that the search engines – in their continuous effort to weed out thin sites from quality pages – are beginning to mine data related to branding metrics, meaning that websites with strong brands could be rewarded with higher search engine rankings.According to Kaiser the Sage, a leading internet marketing website:“With search engines mining brand related, it is almost certain that the next shift in search engine optimization is going to be mostly about branding, seeing as a strong brand presence indicates authoritativeness. Moreover, popular brands are most likely to be rewarded by search engines with higher rankings (for very competitive keywords) on their search results, knowing that they have earned their trust basing from users’ perspectives.”So what is a “brand” and how can you use your website to build one?  Let’s explore how this powerful business building practice can be integrated into existing websites in order to attract the benefits described above…Essentially, your digital brand encompasses what people feel and envision when they think about your company.  Think, for a second, what your mental associations are for discount chain Walmart, compared with what you picture when thinking about high-end retailer Williams-Sonoma.  Although both chains are the same in that their primary goal is to sell products, the way that they do that – and, consequently, the brand associations they’ve built around their companies – are quite different.As a business owner, you have the ability to control and influence these feelings through specific elements of your website’s development.Element #1 – VoiceThe “voice” of your website relates to the textual content you place on your pages – specifically, the way you structure this text to evoke different feelings.To understand how voice is deployed effectively, consider the difference in tone that would be used on a website publishing scientific findings compared to social networking sites targeting kids and teenagers.  In general, the kids’ site will be much more likely to use simple words, short sentences and quick, punchy phrases to convey a sense of fun and excitement.The scientific journal, on the other hand, is likely to feature highly complex sentences, packed with jargon that’s unique to the specific field the journal targets.   Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with either of these examples – what’s important is how the voice used on each site appeals to its target readers.When thinking about the ideal voice for your website, consider the following factors:What is the average reading level of my readers? Unless you’re in a highly technical field, aim for content with an average reading level of grades 6-8 (as determined by a readability test website).Do the words I’m using convey the emotional state I want my readers to achieve? Whether you want your readers to be excited, happy, sad or nervous, make sure this feeling comes across in the words you choose and the way you structure your sentences.Should I use jargon words on my website? Be careful of using too much jargon or you’ll risk turning off readers who don’t understand your meaning.  However, on some technical websites, jargon is a must in order to make more advanced readers feel welcome.Element #2 – DifferentiationBrand differentiation refers to making your company’s unique selling point (USP) visible across all aspects of your website.  Really, it isn’t enough to *be* different – you’ve got to make your website visitors aware of these differences and constantly reinforce them throughout various aspects of your website.Obviously, the first step in this process is to identify your company’s USP (if you don’t already have one).  Once this is set, consider integrating your point of differentiation into any of the following areas of your website:Your site’s header graphic or taglineThe “About me” page on your websiteAs a standalone, featured item on your homepageIntegrated into an advertisement on your sidebarIn any pop up banners you make use ofElement #3 – Design Elements Finally, be aware that the different design elements you use can also play a significant role in how well the message of your brand is carried out across your website.  There’s no doubt that the “look and feel” of a website helps to control the way we think about the site’s brand, which is why it’s important to take the following factors account when integrating your branding message into your website design elements:Color selection – We’ve talked here before about how important color theory is to conveying a desired feeling to your website visitors, but now’s the time to check your color selections to ensure they’re in line with the brand you want to build.  Think about our earlier example of the kids’ site versus the scientific journal.  Clearly, to convey the right brand message, the former would do best to incorporate bright, fun colors, while the latter type of site would benefit from more staid burgundy and forest green tones that create a feeling of maturity and learning.Fonts – Many of the same associations we hold with colors apply to fonts and type faces as well.  Serif fonts, like Times New Roman, are perceived as being more formal and old fashioned, while sans-serif fonts – including Arial and Verdana – convey a more modern feeling. If you’ve gone to all the effort of identifying the right voice for your content and the best colors for your website layout, don’t diminish your branding efforts by choosing a font that doesn’t match up with your visitors’ expectations.Site structure – Although the way your site is laid out may be dictated in large part by the website builder you use, alterations here can also impact the way your website (and, consequently, your brand) is perceived.  The amount of white space included, the number of images used and even how structured your layout is can all influence the success of your branding activities.Obviously, if your company has any offline marketing materials, including business cards or pre-printed stationery, you’ll want to be sure the design elements you use on these pieces match the ones you use on your website in order to create a consistent visual experience for your customers.On the other hand, if you aren’t tied to an offline brand, don’t be afraid to get creative here.  Put some effort into determining exactly what kind of message you want to convey, then take the time to ensure that the voice you use and the design elements you choose help to clearly explain the point of differentiation that makes your business unique.

Five changes that your website needs

BigRock Blog -

Its human nature, we get bored of things that we were ones so excited about. People love variety and change is now become a default factor in everyone’s life. Even a simple OS update can get you excited about your old Smartphone for a few days. The fact remains the same for the visitors of your website, who may love the content you have to offer but might be looking for that one small change to keep them coming back. Websites need to evolve to the latest trends to ensure that they gain new visitors and keep the existing ones engaged. For the ones who are trying to figure out what to change on their website, we did some research and here are some suggestions for you. Design: This possibly is the most obvious and the most difficult thing to do but nevertheless is the most important. Most of us are regularly shifting furniture, painting the house etc to bring some change. The same applies to all websites. Even a few changes in the elements of your website can make a big difference eg. Move the right column of your website to the left hand side. If you are not keen on changing the elements then you can simply change the colors on the website. There is also a variety of designs that can be adapted for your website like flat design, minimalistic design etc. It all depends what your users would like to see. You can even run a survey and find out the kind of design they would like to see on your website. Simplify: There are a lot of Ecommerce websites today but the ones that really do well are the ones that simplify the whole buying process. Your website should focus on allowing users to quickly find the right product and purchase it. Avoid pushing too much of upsell content while the customer is checking out because that might just end up being a turn off (bad for conversions). If your product is good the customer will eventually buy more products from you. Also for creating an account with your website you should place a Facebook and Twitter connect, making it super quick to sign up with you. This could easily be one of the factors that will help someone decide between you and your competitor. Optimize: Think of this as the rabbit and turtle race, but the only change here is that the rabbit always wins. Your website users will simply ditch you for another if your website is too slow to load. You can optimize images, use Mod_PageSpeed and even take advantage of Geo Hosting to make your website load faster. Search engines are also ranking fast loading websites higher and you will lose out on this benefit if your website is slow to load. Social Integration: This is a great way to get attention to your work. Some of the most popular websites today have been recognized thanks to the far reaching effect of social media. If people like your work they will definitely share it with their friends and if it is exceptional then it can go viral as well. You would need to add social buttons on your website for Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc so that your users can easily connect your work with their friends. Blog: People are always in need of information and the internet is the no. 1 place to find it all. The content that you put on your website is information to the people who visit it. One of the best ways to display great content is a blog. This is a great place to express your thoughts, opinions, promote your brand and establish yourself as an expert in the particular field. If your content is relevant and useful then there are chances of healthy interaction with people, helping you establish a better connect. There are many ecommerce websites out there who are blogging with relevance to their field and have created a great trust factor between the users and the brand (great for conversions). It’s time you got one too. There are chances that you might have already implemented some of the changes mentioned here. If not then we recommended that you start right away, giving each factor equal importance. If they are too much of a change for you to deal with, you can take it in stages so that it will be easy for you to implement and easier for your users to digest. Do share with us your experience and the outcome of these changes on your website. We would love to hear from you guys

How to make the most of a WordCamp? Based on WC Phoenix 2014

SiteGround Blog -

Going to WordCamps is really great. Mainly because, no matter if you are just going to build your first personal blog, or you are part of a multinational business built around WordPress, you are sure to meet people that are up to the same challenges as you and are willing to share their experience. Visiting even a single session can be very beneficial, but if you go beyond just listening you will be amazed how much more you can learn. Looking over WordCamp Phoenix, we sponsored and visited last weekend, I can say it was a great example for the different ways you can benefit from such an event. Start easy: Visit Sessions! Listening to the sessions is obviously a no-brainer and all it requires from you is to attend the event. A great thing about WordCamps is that they usually have sessions for each proficiency level and interest. If you are just starting with WordPress, you can learn from great sessions like those hosted by Se Reed (a professional web consultant) and Zac Gordon (who teaches WordPress at Treehouse). They walk you through the basics of WordPress and design, and with their shared knowledge help you get a better understanding of what it takes to build websites with WordPress. If you have already set up your website and would like to turn your attention to start adding quality content to it, there are usually also great tips. In Phoenix some great ideas on optimizing your writing efforts and exploiting the power of content were given by Jennifer Bourn (who manages a design company). Another interesting topic in the WordPress community is the question how to charge for the product you have created. Patrick Rauland’s presentation on Freemium models turns out quite helpful in guiding you away from less successful pricing models such as relying on “donations” and “pay as much as you want”, and disclosing more prosperous methods like building a personal brand over a successful free plugin, or developing a big user base with a free version and charging for premium features the people who need them. And if your are a developer or designer, WordCamps give you the opportunity to learn from the top of the top WordPress developers. In Phoenix there were quite few of them too: Pippin Williamson (PippinsPlugins.com and Easy Digital Download), Brad Williams (co-founder of WebDevStudios and the newly launched super-hot product AppPresser) and a lot more others, who present on …code stuff…obviously… Take the next step: Talk to the people! I personally enjoy WordCamps most of all because I feel I get to learn from anything and anyone, including our competitors, clients, people with totally unrelated business profile, and anyone else at any moment of the day and even of the night. Most of this happens outside the session rooms. However, I understand that talking to people can seem challenging at first. Many people are scared of that social contact with strangers. I remember well my own first event ever, more than 10 years ago, though it was not a WordCamp. Some of the questions that bothered me at that time were: How do I approach all those new people? Why would they want to talk to me? And most of all: Am I smart and interesting enough for them? Who am I anyway, I just started… So if you feel like this when you are reaching out, you have to check out Chris Lema’s speech from WordCAmp phoenix on “Escaping the Imposter Syndrome”. It helps you recognize a problem that many of us have faced at some point or another – the inability to internalize success and admit our own worth and achievements. I could not agree more with him that there is always someone smarter than us, but we shouldn’t forget there are at least a few less smart. You may not know that “new” stuff, but you know a lot more other stuff. Just be yourself and don’t try to pretend you know things that you don’t. People will forgive you that you don’t know and will be even willing to teach you, if you are genuine and want to learn. And another personal advice – do not forget to fave fun! At the end of the day, when you all get together in the nearby bar, you can actually relax and enjoy the less formal conversations and get to know the humans behind the “suits.” You still learn useful stuff like how to drink Fireballs for example, but most of all you get to seal your new bonds so firmly with liquor that you can count on them next time you are rolling on the learning speedtrack. Go beyond: Get involved Now if you want to keep that learning momentum you got on WordCamps and maybe even overcome the imposter syndrome faster, you may want to get involved more actively in the WordPress community. Andrea Middleton, the master WordCamp Coordinator talked about the ways you can do that. A great way to do it is write code…. Well, that’s not for everyone…. You may try organizing WordPress meetups in your own town or grow your meetups into WordCamps. You can also apply for a session or even sponsor an event. Imagine that! You can be in the middle of it all – a great excuse to talk to anyone about anything and LEARN!

SEO: Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results

Bing's Webmaster Blog -

SEO (search engine optimization) has been around for a very long time. During that time, SEOs have found creative ways to move the needle, abused them, lost them to algo updates, found more and generally repeated the cycle 3 billion times. I’ve been on both sides of this, and made a decision about a year into running my first successful website: content would be the focus. Now, mind you, this was before “content was king” and before the engines really nailed that message. It just seemed like the right approach to me. Serve the searcher, not the engine. To be clear, I still use tools like the Bing Webmaster Tools and other webmaster tools to understand what’s up, I do some light keyword research, etc. All the usual best practices most sites perform every day. Remember, it’s all about balance today and moving forward. And while everyone today is all about “content”, many still seek shortcuts. So many businesses have flawed plans or approaches. And so many have business models that will be flawed as time moves forward. I was recently told a story from a friend about a meeting he had with a startup. Their CMO detailed their plans to strike it rich with a site full of “educational videos”. They’d “optimize the videos and drive organic traffic through the site, keeping costs low” he claimed. He then explained how they’d sell ads on the pages to generate revenue. The best place they could think to start their approach to Mount Gazllions was…contextual ads. This is a flawed approach, obvious to so many people. Contextual ads might be a solid start for a hobby website, but you won’t keep the lights on with that revenue stream for long unless you suddenly find millions of people on your doorstep. Even then, it might not work. Another flawed approach: thinking your traffic from an engine should remain static, or grow, continually. Now, I’m not talking about “static” as a bad thing here. Most people would love to see a steady stream of inbounds from organic search. But building a business predicated on this as a traffic source, when the source can make one algorithmic change and your world tilts? Flawed. I am continually amazed at how SEOs tell me I’m wrong when I answer questions for them. SEO: “Does getting the H1 right matter as much as the <title> tag now?”Me: “They’re both important. Think of the user and write for them.”SEO: “But if I can focus only on one, which should it be?”Me: “You need a balanced approach these days.”SEO: “Well, I think if you just nail the title it’ll be fine.” SEO: “Should we spend the big money on a keyword rich domain?”Me: “No.”SEO: “But it’ll help us rank better.”Me: “No, on its own, it won’t.”SEO: “Yes, I think it will.” SEO: “We’re going to have a bunch of guest blogging spots open to build unique content, that’ll work, right?”Me: “Guest blogging has been overdone for a while now – stay focused on producing quality content.”SEO: “Well, every blogger is an expert consultant…”Me: “I give up…” SEO: “We’re going to pull in data from 3 or 4 sources, build a dynamic page filled with the best from across the web! The engines will love this, right?”Me: “You know we see all that content from its original source, right?”SEO: “Yeah, but our experience will be better, and then we can charge businesses to add more data to the pages!”Me: “You understand the engine’s job is to get the searcher to their objective faster, right? With as few clicks as possible. You’re talking about adding more clicks to their path.”SEO: “But we have more choices for them to look at!”Me: “The role of the engine is to surface the best, most relevant result. This shortens the path from query to objective for the searcher.”SEO: “People love looking through options! They spend hours clicking through Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram every day! Why wouldn’t they do it with us?!”Me: #facepalm Hinging your future on a single tactic, whether it’s social, seo, paid search, email, etc. is a recipe for disaster. Over time, things change. And that change may just happen to you. Sure, I hear you saying, “we’re diversified”. Are you? If you’re investing most of your time in SEO, you’re not diversified. What if a business idea or vertical falls out of fashion? Or becomes so lucrative, the only way in is to pay? Is your business capable of weathering that change? Too many businesses today stay laser focused on one idea or approach and when a change happens, they are stunned by their loss of traffic. Times change. The web has changed. What users expect from the web has changed. Search must therefore keep up with the times. Business models that made sense 5 years ago might not be viable moving forward. Tactics that worked 3 years ago might not work tomorrow. So, what do you do? Provide real, useful content, services and tangible value to a searcher. Do that, and become loved by your customers, and you’re almost guaranteed a place near the top of the organic stack. Still lots of work, to be sure, but as you’ve seen over the last couple of years, short cuts work both ways. In the end, it’s worth repeating, there should not be an expectation that an engine will send you traffic, or that the volume of traffic seen up to a certain point should remain the same or grow. Change means just that. Change. Duane ForresterSr. Product ManagerBing

WordPress 3.8.1 Maintenance Release

WordPress.org News -

After six weeks and more than 9.3 million downloads of WordPress 3.8, we’re pleased to announce WordPress 3.8.1 is now available. Version 3.8.1 is a maintenance releases that addresses 31 bugs in 3.8, including various fixes and improvements for the new dashboard design and new themes admin screen. An issue with taxonomy queries in WP_Query was resolved. And if you’ve been frustrated by submit buttons that won’t do anything when you click on them (or thought you were going crazy, like some of us), we’ve found and fixed this “dead zone” on submit buttons. It also contains a fix for embedding tweets (by placing the URL to the tweet on its own line), which was broken due to a recent Twitter API change. (For more on Embeds, see the Codex.) For a full list of changes, consult the list of tickets and the changelog. There’s also a detailed summary for developers on the development blog. If you are one of the millions already running WordPress 3.8, we will start rolling out automatic background updates for WordPress 3.8.1 in the next few hours. For sites that support them, of course. Download WordPress 3.8.1 or venture over to Dashboard → Updates and simply click “Update Now.” Thanks to all of these fine individuals for contributing to 3.8.1: Aaron Jorbin, Allan Collins, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Aubrey Portwood, Ben Dunkle, Connor Jennings, Dion Hulse, Dominik Schilling, fboender, Janneke Van Dorpe, janrenn, Joe Dolson, John Blackbourn, José Pino, Konstantin Kovshenin, Matias Ventura, Matthew Haines-Young, Matt Thomas, Mel Choyce, Mohammad Jangda, Morgan Estes, nivijah, Scott Taylor, Sergey Biryukov, undergroundnetwork, and Yuri Victor. WordPress three eight one We heard you didn’t like bugs So we took them out

Chef Cafe - Hack and Discuss Chef

Web Hosting Coop Blog -

Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 8:30amLocation: Waterloo Ice House1106 West 38th StreetAustin  Texas  78705United StatesDescription: This is where people go to talk about Chef for breakfast! :) Join us at the Waterloo for some Chef talks! Please RSVP via event Austin Devops event page http://www.meetup.com/austin-devops/events/162160452/ "Want to hear about the latest Chef news, have questions about Chef or just like coffee? This is your chance to catch up with Austin Chef users and share your experiences and maybe show off what you're up to. We're meeting at Waterloo Ice House on 38th and Medical Parkway, so stop by for an hour or two before work for coffee, tacos and socializing. Hosted by local Chef employees Matt Ray and Sean Carolan, this is an informal meeting with no fixed agenda or presentations and everyone is welcome regardless of your Chef experience. If you have questions, this is a great place to ask them and make local connections."

5 Steps To Building Your Dream Website

Justhost Blog -

The World Wide Web wouldn’t exist without websites. After all, the web is, in essence, a collection of millions of websites that just about anyone with a browser can access. Building your dream website will require some thoughtful planning on your part, beyond just color schemes and fonts. Whatever tools you choose to create your site, it’s important to lay a foundation by planning it out in advance. Step 1: Map out your site Before you do anything else, you should decide what you want your website to do. Do you want a place to share your thoughts on a particular topic? Perhaps you need an online space to share your body of work in a certain field. You might choose to go with a blog, an online portfolio, a message board, an ecommerce site, or perhaps a combination of the above. Ask yourself these questions: What do I want to accomplish with my website? How can I accomplish it? What tools or outside help will I need to accomplish this? If you want to be more specific, create a mission statement for your website, one that could possibly serve as an About page. Step 2: Choose a Domain name and keywords A domain name and keywords make a website more identifiable on the web. Instead of looking at keywords on their own though, think of them within the context of your entire website. They should occur naturally throughout your website, in a few key places in particular: H1 title tags, URLs, internal and external links, content, and alt picture tags. When you use keywords consistently in key places on your website, they send a consistent message to search engines about what your site is about. You might already have an idea of what keywords you would like to be known for. This is a good starting point for the rest of your keyword research. Use a combination of long tail and short tail keywords. For example, if you own an ice cream parlor in Denver, you might use “old fashioned ice cream parlor in Denver, Colorado” as a long tail keyword. A short tail keyword might be “ice cream in Denver.” The next step would be to perform keyword research to see what other keywords your site could rank for. It’s important to go according to what people want, and not rely too much on your ideas about what ideal keywords are. If you’ve branded yourself as an IT networking specialist, and people are searching for “internet specialist,” go with what people are searching for. It’s also a good idea to make keywords a part of your domain name too, though this won’t make or break your website. The most important thing is to make your domain name something unique yet easy to remember. A rule of thumb is to stick to less than four words, and to make it easy to identify with you or your organization. Step 3: Choose a host There are different types of web hosting to choose from, and the one you choose will depend on your needs and budget. Free hosting: This is a popular option for those wanting to test the website waters without making a financial commitment. Sites that offer a free website plus free hosting include Blogger, WordPress, and Weebly. The downside though is that free hosted sites might post advertising to your website, or require you to have a subdomain instead of your own domain name. Shared hosting: This is a popular option for people just starting out with their own website. Your website shares a server with several other website accounts, with each account sharing a bit of the cost. Shared hosting plans are quite affordable. However, a site with increasing traffic might eventually outgrow shared hosting. VPS or Dedicated hosting: This is hosting for websites with large amounts of traffic, or for organizations with several websites. Dedicated hosting is when your website or group of sites gets a private server which no one else uses. VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting partitions your website across several servers instead of one single server, and is thus a sort of halfway point between dedicated and shared hosting. Due to operating costs, these options can sometimes be the most expensive. Step 4: Create your site As mentioned in the intro, you have a lot of options for creating a website. The method you choose will also depend on your needs and budget, as well as time constraints and ability. Blogging websites: Blogging sites are perhaps the most familiar site creation services right now, with Wordpress.com and Blogger being two of the most popular. Blogging sites offer user-friendly setup including pre-made site templates and simple customization options. They are free to use with the option to upgrade to additional features. The downside is that you don’t have complete control over customization, like with templates and site features. Site creation software: If you have at least a cursory knowledge of HTML and want more control over the look and feel of your website, then site creation software might be just the thing you need. Adobe Dreamweaver is the industry leader in site creation software, though Siteweaver and Xara Web Designer are also competitive options. When to hire someone: Not everyone has the time, patience, or vision to create a truly appealing website, so there may come a time where outsourcing is the best option. Hiring a web designer might also be for you if your current website isn’t getting you the results you want. A great web designer will listen to your ideas, offer their expertise, and work with you until your dream website is complete. Whichever method you choose, be sure to use an engaging, inviting layout for your website. This means using attractive colors (preferably ones that don’t clash), clear website navigation, and uncluttered pages. Step 5: Get the word out Marketing your website is just as important as building it. After all, there’s no point in building and maintaining a website that no one visits. Implementing your keywords solves part of this problem, but there is more you can do to get the word out about your website. Tell friends and family: Appealing to people who already know and like you is a good place to start. Join social media: You might be on Facebook and Twitter already, but consider setting up accounts or a fan page for your business or website in particular. Find out where your ideal fan base spends most of their time, and make yourself visible there. For example, you’re likely to find an audience for your accounting website in a LinkedIn business professionals group. Your marketing materials: Add your URL to your business cards, flyers, branded promotional items, and other marketing tools you use. Engage online: Join message boards, forums, and blogging communities where your audience hangs out. Participate in and start meaningful discussions that show your passion about your topic. Building your dream website is a multi-step process that involves mapping out what you want and how to go about getting it. Not only do you need a beautiful design, but you also need an SEO strategy, a dependable web host, and a way to get the word out about your labor of love. The more willing you are to get into the nitty gritty details of building a great site, the more likely you are to succeed at having the website you’ve always wanted.

The Four Freedoms

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Eleven months before the U.S. declared war on Japan, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone.” He articulated four fundamental freedoms that everyone in the world ought to enjoy: Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. Fast forward 72 years: technology has advanced at dizzying rates and permeated every aspect of our lives, from how we are born to how we die and everything in between. In this co-evolution of society and technology, what it means to be truly “free” is no longer about just the country we live in, or even its laws, but is shaped by the products we live on. As Marc Andreessen says, software is eating the world. It’s a creative gale of destruction that irreversibly changes every industry it touches, and if you don’t control the software, the software controls you. It mediates how and with whom you communicate, what news you see, and what other software you’re able to run. It influences the very way your brain works, as you process the creative gale of distraction that interrupts us all hundreds of times each day. With every ping, software burrows deeper into our lives. In the early nineties, a prescient hacker named Richard Stallman — working at MIT, where today’s future had already happened — recognized this shift. He proposed a set of four freedoms that were fundamental for software in an enlightened, tech-dependent society. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions, giving the community a chance to benefit from your changes. (Aside: I originally thought Stallman started counting with zero instead of one because he’s a geek. He is, but that wasn’t the reason. Freedoms one, two, and three came first, but later he wanted to add something to supercede all of them. So: freedom zero. The geekness is a happy accident.) This is our Bill of Rights. Stallman called it Free Software. The “free” doesn’t have to do with price, as you’re still free to charge for your software, but with freedom to create. Or as we geeks often say: not free as in beer, free as in speech. People are scared of free software, and I understand why. You’re taking the most valuable thing you have, your intellectual property, and granting the freedom you enjoy as a creator to anyone who downloads your work. It’s terrifying, actually. It’s releasing your ideas, and letting anyone build on them — in a way that might be better than your own work. It’s releasing your traditional understanding of ownership, and your fear of being out-developed. The most experienced entrepreneurs can cling to the concept that your idea is something precious that must be protected from the world, and meted out in a controlled way. Lots of us hang on to the assumption that scarcity creates a proprietary advantage. It’s how many non-tech markets work. Open source abdicates your flexibility as a developer to better serve the people who actually use your products. You can see that as a constraint… or you can see it as a door to iteration, innovation, and constant progress. I’ve spent a third of my life building software based on Stallman’s four freedoms, and I’ve been astonished by the results. WordPress wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those freedoms, and it couldn’t have evolved the way it has. WordPress was based on a program called B2/cafelog that predated it by two years. I was using B2 because it had freedoms 0 and 1: I could use it for whatever I wanted, including my zero-budget personal blog, and the source code was open. It was elegant and easy to understand, and anyone could tweak it. B2 was ultimately abandoned by its creator. If I’d been using it under a proprietary license, that would have been the end — for me, and all its other users. But because we had freedoms 2 and 3, Mike Little and I were able to use the software as a foundation, giving us a two-year headstart over building something from scratch, and realize our own vision of what blogging could be. We were just consumers of the software, volunteers in the forums, and occasional contributors to the codebase, but because (of the GPL) we had the freedom to build on B2, we were able to continue development as if it had been our own creation. Ten years later, those freedoms are still embedded in every copy of WordPress downloaded, including the 9.2 million downloaded in the past month or so since our 3.8 release. I believe that software, and in fact entire companies, should be run in a way that assumes that the sum of the talent of people outside your walls is greater than the sum of the few you have inside. None of us are as smart as all of us. Given the right environment — one that leverages the marginal cost of distributing software and ideas — independent actors can work toward something that benefits them, while also increasing the capability of the entire community. This is where open source gets really interesting: it’s not just about the legal wonkery around software licensing, but what effect open sourced software has on people using it. In the proprietary world, those people are typically called “users,” a strange term that connotes dependence and addiction. In the open source world, they’re more rightly called a community. The core features of WordPress aren’t rocket surgery. A handful of smart people in a room for a year could create a reasonable approximation of the software, and undoubtably improve some things — I see other startups do this three or four times a year. What they miss is that WordPress isn’t a checklist of features. It’s over 29,000 plugins created by the community, from the in-demand things like SEO to niche features like using your 404 page to help adopt homeless dogs in Sweden. Every WordPress site looks different, because of the thousands of themes available. Instead of one event to outdo, there are more than 70 volunteer-organized WordCamps on six continents (and there’ll be more in 2014). WordPress marketing has nothing to do with its website or logo, it’s the tens of thousands of people who make a living building WordPress sites and receive so much value from it that they proselytize to anyone that will listen, spreading the flame one site at a time. It works — as of December 2013, 21% of websites are powered by WordPress. One-fifth of the web is built with a tool that anyone can use, change, or improve, whenever and however they want (even more when you count other open source projects, like Drupal). This approach to building isn’t an abdication of developers’ and designers’ responsibility to build beautiful, functional software. Design and forethought are more important than ever when every change sends millions of independent actors down a new path. Changes to WordPress have consequences today, tomorrow, five years, and ten years down the road, but the passion and talent of the community helps ensure that it always moves forward in a positive way. The four freedoms don’t limit us as creators — they open possibilities for us as creators and consumers. When you apply them to software, you get Linux, Webkit/Chrome, and WordPress. When you apply them to medicine, you get the Open Genomics Engine, which is accelerating cancer research and bringing us closer to personalized treatment. When you apply them to companies, you get radically geographically distributed, results-based organizations like Automattic. When you apply them to events you get TEDx, Barcamp, and WordCamp. When you apply them to knowledge, you get Wikipedia. William Gibson is attributed with saying “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” The world is changing faster than any one person or organization can keep up with it. Closed off, proprietary development creates closed off, proprietary products that won’t keep pace in the long run. Open source provides another path — one that’s open to everyone, and can take advantage of the skills and talents of anyone in the world to build software that helps everyone. As Bill Joy said, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Good ideas aren’t the sole province of groups of people behind high walls, and software shouldn’t be either. This was adapted from a talk I gave at the Life is Beautiful festival in Downtown Las Vegas. Thanks to Michelle, Ben, Davide, and Paul for help with this.

A new Googlebot user-agent for crawling smartphone content

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster level: Advanced Over the years, Google has used different crawlers to crawl and index content for feature phones and smartphones. These mobile-specific crawlers have all been referred to as Googlebot-Mobile. However, feature phones and smartphones have considerably different device capabilities, and we've seen cases where a webmaster inadvertently blocked smartphone crawling or indexing when they really meant to block just feature phone crawling or indexing. This ambiguity made it impossible for Google to index smartphone content of some sites, or for Google to recognize that these sites are smartphone-optimized. A new Googlebot for smartphonesTo clarify the situation and to give webmasters greater control, we'll be retiring "Googlebot-Mobile" for smartphones as a user agent starting in 3-4 weeks' time. From then on, the user-agent for smartphones will identify itself simply as "Googlebot" but will still list "mobile" elsewhere in the user-agent string. Here are the new and old user-agents: The new Googlebot for smartphones user-agent:Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) The Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones user-agent we will be retiring soon:Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) This change affects only Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones. The user-agent of the regular Googlebot does not change, and the remaining two Googlebot-Mobile crawlers will continue to refer to feature phone devices in their user-agent strings; for reference, these are: Regular Googlebot user-agent:Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) The two Googlebot-Mobile user-agents for feature phones:SAMSUNG-SGH-E250/1.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 UP.Browser/6.2.3.3.c.1.101 (GUI) MMP/2.0 (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)DoCoMo/2.0 N905i(c100;TB;W24H16) (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) You can test your site using the Fetch as Google feature in Webmaster Tools, and you can see a full list of our existing crawlers in the Help Center. Crawling and indexing Please note this important implication of the user-agent update: The new Googlebot for smartphones crawler will follow robots.txt, robots meta tag, and HTTP header directives for Googlebot instead of Googlebot-Mobile. For example, when the new crawler is deployed, this robots.txt directive will block all crawling by the new Googlebot for smartphones user-agent, and also the regular Googlebot: User-agent: GooglebotDisallow: / This robots.txt directive will block crawling by Google’s feature phone crawlers: User-agent: Googlebot-MobileDisallow: / Based on our internal analyses, this update affects less than 0.001% of URLs while giving webmasters greater control over the crawling and indexing of their content. As always, if you have any questions, you can:Read our recommendations for building smartphone-optimized sitesLearn more about controlling Googlebot crawling and indexingAsk in our Webmaster help forums or visit one of our Webmaster Central office hours hangouts. Posted by Zhijian He, Smartphone search engineer

BigRock’s new addition: Auto-Updating Nameservers

BigRock Blog -

You must have heard this a zillion times already “Change is the only constant”, and at BigRock, we love it. Working in such an environment is super fun, where ideas keep flowing and current situations are challenged for a better outcome. Even when we look at our products, the primary focus for any change is simply to improve the overall functionality, usability and value for money, no matter how big or small the change is. Today, we would like to share with you a small but very important update that we recently added. What’s the Update? Initially, new customers of BigRock who had a domain name and a hosting package in the same account, needed to manually change the nameservers of their domain name. This was done so that the domain names are pointed to the right webhosting services. Unfortunately, this bought about inconvenience because of manual intervention and possible mistakes. Well this now, is a thing of the past, thanks to the new feature of auto-updating name servers which went live recently, making it easier for you to get started. Conditions for this update to work? For the auto-updating of the nameservers feature to actually work the following conditions need to be fulfilled: 1. The domain name and the corresponding hosting package have to be in the same customer account (including add-on domain names in a Multi Domain Hosting account). 2. The current nameservers for the domain name must be pointing to BigRock Nameservers. 3. There should be no DNS records (A/ AAAA/ MX/ NS/ CNAME/ TXT or SRV) in our “Managed DNS” zone (there are few exceptions in case of MX/ NS and TXT records) In case of NS records, if there are any other NS records (other than the default), the nameservers will not be changed. In case of TXT/ MX records, if there are any other records than the ones that we have added, the autoupdate of the nameservers will fail. 4. If the “Free Email” option for this domain exists, there should not be any active accounts (email or forward accounts created in the cPanel or Plesk). 5. It is not a .DE domain name. This update is available for both Single and Multi Domain Hosting (Windows and Linux). So if you are planning to take up domain and hosting through the same BigRock account, do remember that we have you covered from the minute you say go Do let us know what you think about the new update. We would love to hear from you.

Introducing analytics for Twitter Cards

The Twitter Developer Blog -

Today we’re beginning to roll out analytics for Twitter Cards to help you understand how your Cards are performing. Publishers, developers and brands around the world use Twitter Cards to make Tweets more engaging with pictures, videos, content previews, deep links into their apps, and other rich media experiences. Now for the first time you can gain insight into how your content is performing on Twitter, and find personalized tips to help make more strategic decisions about your use of Cards. The Twitter Card analytics dashboard is designed to help you find what matters and take action. Along the way, you’ll get insights on how to do even better. Small changes –– using a different Twitter Card, conversing more with the followers who love your content, or installing or changing the location of a Tweet button –– can make a big difference. Special thanks goes out to our charter partners who played an integral role in shaping this product: BuzzFeed, NBC News, Time Inc., ESPN, MLB, Flipboard, Etsy, Foursquare, and Path. Additionally, you’ll be able to access two other types of information about your account in the new Twitter Card analytics dashboard: Tweets: See how Twitter users are engaging with all of your Tweets. Followers: Get insight into who your followers are and the rate at which they’re growing. Identify spikes in follower activity and find a correlation in your Tweet activity. To get started with Twitter Card analytics, or if you’re already a card user or advertiser, sign in at analytics.twitter.com or ads.twitter.com. All Card users and advertisers will get access to the new dashboard over the next few days. Check out the Twitter Card analytics developer page for more information on how to become a cards user.

Introducing analytics for Twitter Cards

The Twitter Developer Blog -

Today we’re beginning to roll out analytics for Twitter Cards to help you understand how your Cards are performing. Publishers, developers and brands around the world use Twitter Cards to make Tweets more engaging with pictures, videos, content previews, deep links into their apps, and other rich media experiences. Now for the first time you can gain insight into how your content is performing on Twitter, and find personalized tips to help make more strategic decisions about your use of Cards. The Twitter Card analytics dashboard is designed to help you find what matters and take action. Along the way, you’ll get insights on how to do even better. Small changes –– using a different Twitter Card, conversing more with the followers who love your content, or installing or changing the location of a Tweet button –– can make a big difference. Special thanks goes out to our charter partners who played an integral role in shaping this product: BuzzFeed, NBC News, Time Inc., ESPN, MLB, Flipboard, Etsy, Foursquare, and Path. Additionally, you’ll be able to access two other types of information about your account in the new Twitter Card analytics dashboard: Tweets: See how Twitter users are engaging with all of your Tweets. Followers: Get insight into who your followers are and the rate at which they’re growing. Identify spikes in follower activity and find a correlation in your Tweet activity. To get started with Twitter Card analytics, or if you’re already a card user or advertiser, sign in at analytics.twitter.com or ads.twitter.com. All Card users and advertisers will get access to the new dashboard over the next few days. Check out the Twitter Card analytics developer page for more information on how to become a cards user.

Changes in crawl error reporting for redirects

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster level: intermediate-advancedIn the past, we have seen occasional confusion by webmasters regarding how crawl errors on redirecting pages were shown in Webmaster Tools. It's time to make this a bit clearer and easier to diagnose! While it used to be that we would report the error on the original - redirecting - URL, we'll now show the error on the final URL - the one that actually returns the error code. Let's look at an example: URL A redirects to URL B, which in turn returns an error. The type of redirect, and type of error is unimportant here. In the past, we would have reported the error observed at the end under URL A. Now, we'll instead report it as URL B. This makes it much easier to diagnose the crawl errors as they're shown in Webmaster Tools. Using tools like cURL or your favorite online server header checker, you can now easily confirm that this error is actually taking place on URL B. This change may also be visible in the total error counts for some websites. For example, if your site is moving to a new domain, you'll only see these errors for the new domain (assuming the old domain redirects correctly), which might result in noticeable changes in the total error counts for those sites.Note that this change only affects how these crawl errors are shown in Webmaster Tools. Also, remember that having crawl errors for URLs that should be returning errors (e.g. they don't exist) does not negatively affect the rest of the website's indexing or ranking (also as discussed on Google+).We hope this change makes it a bit easier to track down crawl errors, and to clean up the accidental ones that you weren't aware of! If you have any questions, feel free to post here, or drop by in the Google Webmaster Help Forum. Posted by John Mueller, Website Error Analyst

Pages

Recommended Content

Subscribe to Complete Hosting Guide aggregator