InMotion Hosting

The Official InMotion Hosting Blog

Open Source Central: PrestaShop Partnership

Prestashop

We made a new friend!

Recently, we at InMotion Hosting have been given an awesome opportunity to work with PrestaShop in a partnership to improve the experience for our customers.  Our Marketing Team was able to forge bonds with the staff at PrestaShop over our mutual love of Open Source software.  Because InMotion is one of the few remaining hosts that still openly supports and interacts with Open Source software, it was a match made in heaven. Through interactions with PrestaShop employees at open source events, our marketing team developed a relationship and an opportunity arose to turn that relationship into a business partnership that will benefit not only InMotion and PrestaShop, but also our customers.

Over the next 6 months, our relationship with PrestaShop will grow, and as such we have been preparing to offer the best support possible.  Our Development team partnered with our Marketing team to create an auto-installer so that customers who purchase our hosting through the PrestaShop website will have an account with PrestaShop already installed and ready to go for them.  This development is a huge step in our ability to better serve our customers’ needs.

We have been working to increase staffing including specialized training for our PrestaShop experts on our Tier 1 Support Team.  These individuals have improved knowledge and experience in working with PrestaShop so that we may better answer any questions our PrestaShop customers may have.

Even before becoming official partners, we have known how valuable a tool PrestaShop is to our customers.  We focused a lot of information on our Support Center to learning more about how to use PrestaShop and presenting that information to our customers.  Our PrestaShop Education Channel was a huge success as we introduced our clients to this shopping cart option.  (http://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/edu/prestashop-15)

On behalf of InMotion Hosting and our entire staff, we would like to welcome everyone at PrestaShop and all our new PrestaShop customers to the InMotion family.

Myths of SEO

seo

Search engine optimization.  We talk about it a lot here, as most hosting companies do, because it is daunting and shrouded in mystery.  Literally, that’s not one of my usual exaggerations for comedic effect.  Google, as an example due to its popularity and nearness to taking over the world, keeps its algorithm a secret.  Like government agency secret; probably not “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you” secret, but pretty close.

Why all the secrecy?  Well, several reasons. It is difficult to have valid results for the searcher if websites know exactly what to do to get their website at the top of whatever list they want.  Further, you as a website or small business owner understand the importance of having a good ranking in relative terms, so if Google were to release their secrets to the masses, it would be even more difficult for small businesses to compete with larger companies.

This mystery adds a lot to the importance of your website’s content.  One thing has always remained true throughout the course of website searches – content is king.  If your content is specific and relative to your business, you will find that your ranking will naturally be high in the keywords most relative to your search.  The mystery also creates bad practices due to rumors, or outdated and incorrect information.  Or, even worse, someone finds a way to cheat the system, and that method spreads across the internet.  Suddenly, rankings go haywire, and when Google updates its ranking methods again (usually once or twice a year) all those websites tank in rankings.  Search engines keep track of those instances and it becomes very difficult for those sites to recover in ranking.

So, how do you know what’s a valid tip and what isn’t?  That’s what I’m here for. I’m going to help ease some of the rumors or old information that is still floating around and tell you what’s true and what isn’t.  It’s my own little digital myth busting, but with less explosions, and no moustaches.

Adding a location to your website increases your presence in local searches.

A lot of people don’t want to put their location anywhere on their website, especially if they don’t own a storefront.  But, don’t do that.  I’m not suggesting you put your address, phone number, birth date, and social security number on your site, just your city and state.  After all, if you didn’t pay for domain privacy, your information is publicly available on the internet anyhow.

Google now customizes searches to such a high degree, that a search for the exact same keyword with the exact same search history will result in different results if the searches are performed in different locations.  If I am looking for a plumber, I don’t care who the best plumber in New York is.  I want someone in Virginia Beach, Virginia because that’s where I’m located.

CONFIRMED.

You can use this to your advantage by putting an area map on your site.  Also, if you are a business and list your service areas, you will have a broader search radius.  If you are not a business, try to focus some of your content on local items.  If you have a food blog (like me) post some recipes using local foods, or talk about some local events you attended.

Higher rankings locally will drive traffic to your site.  And traffic increases your overall ranking, so getting local traffic will help your site grow in popularity worldwide.

Lists show importance, so I should list a bunch of keywords on my home page.

Yes and no, but mostly no.

Yes, lists show the scanning bots that the information included in those lists is important.  So, if you have a set of skills, certifications, or services to offer, put them in a list on your home page.  But, don’t flood every page with lists of random keywords.

Relevance and readability are still factors, even to search engine bots.  So, make sure your lists make sense or use complete sentences if possible.  Also, as with everything, make sure your keywords are relevant to your website.  Search engine bots are so advanced now, they can determine if something will make sense to someone reading it.  If too many flags come up (like say, a smattering of random words) it will hurt your rankings more than help them.

BUSTED. MOSTLY.

Don’t ignore this just because it’s not your chosen keyword that needs to be on the list on your page.  Drawing attention to important words on your website is always a good thing. Plus, you never know what someone is searching for, so you don’t want to give up on something just because you don’t think it’s important.

Take advantage of this when developing your content.  Don’t stop at lists, and use italics, bold, and underline.  Anything designed to draw attention to certain aspects of your site will be a way of adding a private note to the bots that this information is most relevant to your website.

Keywords are the most important factor in SEO, so it is best to flood your website, HTML tags, and code with hundreds of keywords.

Please don’t do this.  It’s not helpful, and even if it were, your ranking would be all wonky and your site would show up places it doesn’t belong and that wouldn’t help you or your customers at all.  And, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times when discussing SEO, relevant keywords are what really matter.

Also, like I mentioned before, bots can tell when a keyword is just inserted on a page.  So, make sure that what you use matters, makes sense, and is relevant to the other information around it.

BUSTED

So, how do you get more keywords into your site?  Well, first do your research and select the most relevant keywords to the information you are providing.  Then, only use 3-5 for each page of your website.  This will give your pages focus and will reduce the stress of fitting 30 keywords onto one page.

When you are writing for your HTML tags, remember that they don’t matter as much as they used to.  Title tags are the most important, and after that, photo descriptions, everything else is just a possible bonus.  Bots don’t crawl tags as much as they used to because the information on your site and the information others say about your site is much more important.

Bots don’t read punctuation.

This is actually true.  Bots don’t care about punctuation as much as the words on the screen, so you can increase the number of relevant keywords in an HTML tag or page by creatively using punctuation to your advantage.

For example, if your key word phrases are:

Hosting

InMotion

InMotion Hosting is awesome

You can put all of these together in one short sentence.

“Dedicated to the customer is what InMotion Hosting is.  Awesome hosting is hard to come by.”

Notice that we have hosting in there twice, InMotion Hosting is in there, and paired with awesome hosting, and it all combines to make the phrase InMotion Hosting is awesome.  That is also the perfect length for a HTML Tag, full of keywords and not too long.

Did you catch the bonus keyword?  “Dedicated” is the start of the sentence.  Paired with the repetition of the word hosting, we are in a good place to be found when someone searches “Dedicated hosting” or dare I say, “Awesome dedicated hosting”.

Long story short, if you have questions about improving your search engine rankings, you should remember what I said at the start of this post: “Content is King”.  When in doubt, ensure that your content is well written, informative, and full of diverse media.

There are so many myths about SEO, and the internet is flooded with bad information, and this short post only scratched the surface.

So, stay tuned to this bat channel for more helpful tips and busting of SEO myths.

Open Source Central: Free WordPress Themes

Who isn’t talking about WordPress right now?  Seriously, WordPress is my first love.  It’s what my website is built with and it’s what my 62 year old father’s brand new website is built with.  It’s intuitive and easy to use.  So easy that I didn’t even have to walk him through writing his first post.  This is the man who was so excited when he first learned to text that he sent me 4 text messages that only said, “Look, I’m sending a text message!”

So, if my father can learn to use WordPress, you can learn to use WordPress.  I promise.  As with all software, there is a slight learning curve while you get used to it, but trust me, once you do, it will be worth it.

I’m going to help you out with the most difficult part of building a site with WordPress – finding a theme. There are so many themes available on WordPress and they all offer features, customization, and ease of use at various levels and various prices.  So, if you find this article helpful, you’ll see more of them focusing on features, pricing, and purpose.  If you don’t find this article useful, pretend like someone else wrote it.

But, for now, we will focus on FREE WordPress themes.  Everyone loves free!  I’m going to pull my favorite themes from across the internet to show you the breadth of themes available and the different features in each one that won’t cost you anything but time.

CleanRetina

Clean Retina by Theme Horse http://www.themehorse.com/themes/clean-retina/

I’m starting here because it’s a personal favorite of mine.  It’s actually the theme I use on my almost a food blog (I tend to ramble and rant more than post recipes).  I love it because it’s clean and it’s customizable.  Built right into the theme options is a page for CSS updates.  I appreciate a theme developer who encourages people to use his theme the way they need to.  I was able to make this theme my own by using the in-theme options and then changing the CSS to get the feel I wanted.

This elegant theme comes with a lot of subtle design details; notice the “scroll” button that stays in the bottom right corner when navigating the site.  Clean Retina keeps up with the times.  It will look just as great on your phone or retina display as any other computer.

Artificer

Artificer – Woo Themes http://www.woothemes.com/products/artificer/

Personally, I love Woo Themes; talk about a WordPress Powerhouse.  Woo Themes doesn’t just stop at themes, they also have plug-ins to make the themes achieve your end goal.  The result is a group of themes and plug-ins that are designed to work as well separately as apart.  A lot of the Woo Themes and plug-ins are available for free, or you can purchase a subscription and have the availability to download multiple themes.

Why Artificer?  Well, it’s a free theme that is designed to be a store.  Yep, it’s actually a shopping cart and partners well with all of Woo Themes’ widgets, including Woo Commerce!  The design is simple, so your products don’t get lost amongst too many “features”, and as with most Woo Themes, it is responsive, so it’s easy to purchase from your shop on the go.

Helix

Helix by Fab Themes http://www.fabthemes.com/helix/

Wow.  I love this theme and I really wish I had a need for it, but unfortunately, I don’t.  But, if you’re a photographer, videographer, graphic artist, painter, or any other image-centric vocation, this is the theme for you.  While this theme does require the Options Framework plug-in to work (this is available for free download through WordPress.org), the installation of that plug in is so easy, and this theme is definitely worth the extra step.

Helix gives you all of the features available to standard WordPress themes, compatibility with pages and blogs, and the eye catching full-screen image rotator draws your clients in before they even read anything you have to say.

Oxygen

Oxygen Theme by Alien  http://alienwp.com/themes/oxygen/

I like the Oxygen Theme because of its professional simplicity. This is a great way to introduce your company to the world.  The theme is responsive, which as you know is important in our portable lifestyle.  It is easy to customize with multiple widget areas, multiple menus, a built-in light box, and customizable back ground.  It also includes a featured content slider, so you are able to easily update the focus of your home page if you are running promotions or want to highlight part of your business.

Researching a theme is the first step to building a successful WordPress website.  You want a theme that has a general feel that you are looking for, or has enough customization available to make it fit your website.

When selecting a theme, take your time, install a few themes and try them out.  Make sure it is easy to make changes to the site and that you are comfortable using all the features available to you through the theme options.  Remember, no two themes are exactly the same on the back end, so you need to be as comfortable with changing your website as you are with looking at it.

Team Member Profile: Yuriy Shyyan – Managed Hosting

Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine (moved to USA when I was 12)
Position: Managed Hosting
InMotion Hosting team member since May 2012

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
As a teenager, I used to tinker with computers at home and had hosting at 14. But when it comes to InMotion Hosting, I ended up here through another job.

I worked part-time at Papa Johns while I was taking CS courses. Once night I delivered pizza to InMotion Hosting, and when I dropped them off, I was amazed with all the computer setups they had. Instantly, I knew I wanted to be a part of this company. So I asked if there were open positions – and a month later, I was working here.

Hardware or software? Which is your preference? Why?
Both. But when it comes time to play with hardware – it’s all about the hardware, it’s all about the power – it’s all about that engine!

Software is about comfort, efficiency, productivity, etc.

Followup question: Fastest rig built?
My gaming computer: AMD FX-8350 @ 4.8 O.C.; 16GB RAM; 2x XFX Radeon HD 7870 in CrossFire-X; 2x Vertex 256GB SSD’s in RAID0; 3-24″ monitors

Yuriy's "Killer" machine


What is your favorite online application?
Well, I’m a big fan of utility applications to make my life easier. I actually host my own version of “Dropbox” , “Puush”, and host an Openfire chat server for friends and family. Communication and ease of use is what I like.

Coolest gadget you own, want, or have read about?
This is a tough one, as I love all my toys. But, since I have a passion for music production, probably my sound system, or at least the Technics speakers and the Kenwood receiver I have at home. It can certainly shake a wall or two on those quiet nights.

Favorite thing about working at IMH?
Constantly learning. If you aren’t learning on your job, you’re wasting time. And I get to learn more and more about the things I like to do on my own time.

There are also some fun perks too. Foosball, loose company culture, and talking shop with my coworkers.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
Well, I definitely love what I do. I love it so much that the phrase “Don’t bring work home” is something that I cannot live by. There are those days where I come home, tinker with my servers, mess around with hardware setups, and then it’s suddenly 5am!

The Power of Account Management Panel

file_management

The internet – The final frontier.  These are the continuing features of AMP.  Its ongoing mission: to explore new customization options, to seek out the best services for InMotion Hosting’s customers, to boldly go where no hosting company has gone before.

Have you seen the new Star Trek yet?  It’s fantastic.  Like all good fangirls, I’m enamored with all things Benedict Cumberbatch.   But that has nothing to do with this post, except that it gave me the opportunity for a timely and creative opening to talk about our Account Management Panel (AMP).

If you haven’t been using our AMP software yet, you’re really missing out.  But, now is the time!  We’ve added some awesome new features that will give you more control than ever over your account and server.  It’s majestic.

But, before we get into those new features, let’s recap what makes AMP so fantastic.  If you haven’t used it before, go to our website.  On the top of every page you’ll see the log in button.

AMP

From here, you can go anywhere!  It has an option to check your billing information, including reviewing what items are currently being billed for your account, reviewing past receipts, and even updating contact and payment information.  This saves you time and effort and takes the stress of billing off your shoulders.  You can even set renewal reminders, so you will always know what renewal is coming and when.

AMP also gives you direct access to your cPanel, and if you’re on a VPS or Dedicated platform, Web Host Manager (WHM).  This makes accessing all your accounts easier and faster as they are all linked to one central location.

But, you probably already knew that.  What you may not have known, is that we’ve added even more awesome features.

Purchase a new IP Address

You can now purchase a new IP address to your account directly through AMP. Yep.  You don’t have to contact our Support Team for it anymore, just click a few buttons and you’re on your way.

How do you do this?  It is located under “Additional Services” then, “Other”.  Select purchase IP address.  Done and done.

Change Your Primary Domain Name

We’ve also added the option to update your shared hosting account’s primary domain name.  So, if you decide the domain that was your primary is no longer needed, you can just log into your AMP, cancel the renewal on that domain and put a new domain in its place.

Start in the “Details” section under “Account and Billing”.  From there, click, “Make Changes”, and select “Change Primary Domain”.  Follow the prompts from there and with a bit of propagation time, you have a new primary domain name.

Restart Your Virtual Private Server

For whatever reason, there may come a time when you, or your site administrator, may need to reboot your server.  Before, that was a contact to our Support Team with an escalation to our System Administrators.  That took time.  However, now you can restart your VPS’s services right from the comfort of your living room, or office, or bathroom, or wherever you do your work.  We don’t judge here.

In AMP, we’re going to venture back to “Details” under “Accounts and Billing”.  In your “Active Subscriptions” section, you should see a button that says, “Restart VPS”.  Click that.

WHAMO!

Your VPS is restarting.  It’s like a direct line to our System Administrators.  Or magic; if you’re like me and think all this internet and technology stuff is secretly operated by wizards in disguise.

Once everything is restarted and ready to go again, you’ll get a SUCCESS message.  You’ll feel good about yourself.  You will have accomplished something that day.  This is what InMotion Hosting and AMP does for you, it brightens your day and boosts your confidence.  Maybe we should rename it to Awe-inspiring Magnificent Panel of Wonder.  AMPOW! That’s practically perfection.

With this newfound confidence, you can do anything.  Go out, live your dreams.  Interview for that dream job (we’re hiring, by the way: http://www.inmotionhosting.com/employment/), ask out that girl (or guy) you’ve been crushing on (I’m married, sorry), or just enjoy the world with your new positive outlook on life.  AMP, the internet, and our 24/7 Support Team will be here for you when you get back.

 

Managed Hosting and Launch Assist

rocket

Let me introduce you to Managed Hosting and Launch Assist. When I was given this assignment for the blog and newsletter, I was really excited.  I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me as a topic earlier, but I’m glad someone thought of it.

Why am I so excited, you ask? I mean, let’s be real, it’s not like I’m writing a post about Doctor Who or anything (don’t judge).

I am excited because I get to tell you about our new Managed Hosting service and Launch Assist for our Virtual Private Server and Dedicated hosting packages!  Okay, admittedly, without a little background on why that’s awesome that reveal is mildly anti-climactic, but stick with me, you’ll be excited too.

First, let’s flash back to just under three years ago when I first started working for InMotion Hosting.  I was hired onto our Customer Care team because I am awesome with customers.  My tech knowledge was not my strong suit.  I mean, I had a website and a blog and previously was a Genius at the Apple Store, so I knew my way around a computer and had a working knowledge of the internet.  However, my server knowledge wasn’t quite as good.  I mean, I could tell you that you needed accurate name servers, but I had no idea why.

Working here over the last few years has taught me a lot about servers and site design, but before that, I had no idea what I was doing.  However, I was bound and determined to learn it.

I ended up breaking things, a lot.  So, I started pestering the tech support reps to both fix the things I broke and explain to me how to not break it in the future.  Because I work here, I had a direct line to the brilliance.

Now, thanks to Managed Hosting, you have a direct line to the brilliance too!

Seriously, Managed Hosting is essentially a hook-up to our best and brightest.  They’re that friend everyone has who is willing to fix your server for you.  This is a team of Systems-level technicians dedicated to you.  While they are not account managers, we do keep the team intimate so they all can get to know our customers directly.

Keeping the whole team available to your account means you are almost guaranteed to have someone available who has expertise in your question.  You can also rest easy knowing that the Support Representative working on your account is not only experienced but also has the upper level server knowledge you can rely on.

These guys are brilliant enough to work directly with you or your developer on any level.  So, if you need to be able to jump right into a higher tier of support without going through our base T1 Premier Support Team, Managed Hosting is the place to be.

But, technical knowledge is not the only factor we take when selecting technicians for our Managed Hosting Team.  We also look for those agents who have some of the best customer service on the floor.  After all, that’s what sets InMotion Hosting apart from the pack, our dedicated focus to our customers.

We pride ourselves in the service our representatives offer.  We bring this up in the initial job interview, and it is a focus of every aspect of our training because it’s so much a part of our daily tasks.  It’s InMotion Hosting’s thing.  Go Daddy has elephants, HostGator has Texas, InMotion Hosting has Customer Service.  We strive every day to set the industry standard for customer service.

At the moment, Managed Hosting is only available to our VPS and Dedicated hosting customers, so if you have been on the fence about upgrading, now is the best time to do it!

Launch Assist

With your upgrade or new VPS or Dedicated purchase, you have optional Launch Assist to help get you up and running.

Included in all Dedicated packages and available for $99 on VPS packages, Launch assist gets you up to 2 hours of Managed Hosting within your first 30 days.  They can help you get your server set up just how you like it so you have a lean, mean, website hosting machine.

Between Managed Hosting and Launch Assist, our team has your team covered.

See?  I told you this was exciting.  This is better than when those stores give you employee discounts.  Except, the employee discount that you get is access to our employees!  That seems weird, but let me tell you; these guys have gotten me out of a lot of jams and have always been able to explain what I did wrong without confusing me.  They are gifted.

Just remember to do one thing that I didn’t.  Call Managed Hosting before you break your server.

Team Member Profile: Tony Kelly – Managed Hosting

Hometown: As an Air Force brat, I’ve lived across the USA and Japan. I would say I don’t have a real “hometown.” Most of my extended family is from Washington, NC. So I guess that’s where I like to call home.
Position: Managed Hosting
InMotion Hosting team member since April 2011

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
I have been hosting since the early 1990s using WWIV BBS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWIV). As a registered SysOp and part of the early WWIVnet and WWIVLink.

After joining the Navy I closed down my BBS and shortly after got my first hosting with a shared hosting account in the late 1990s.

Hardware or software?
Hardware. While I appreciate all that the software allows me to do with the hardware. There’s nothing like putting together a killer machine that can run circles around its competitors. Most are so easy to upgrade too.

Followup questions: Describe the “killer machine?”
That would be a multi-boot Mac and Windows 7 machine. i7 920, 16GB RAM, NZXT Phantom Case. Intel x25 SSH plus 2.5TB hard drive.

The Beast

What’s your favorite online application?
Wordpress would be my favorite because it’s so powerful and so widely supported. If kept updated and some extra security measures are used (like BulletProof Security http://wordpress.org/plugins/bulletproof-security/), you can have an awesome site with little fuss. You can even use smartphone apps and automators like IFTTT to help you manage your site.

Coolest gadget you own, want, or have read about?
Having just started my move into home automation I love being able to control my lighting and other parts of my home through my smartphone. Turning on my porch light from my phone is just plain awesome! While it’s not exactly a gadget, home automation is something I’ve been toying with for years and finally made the jump.

Followup question: What smartphone and app are you using?
For home automation, I use Z-wave with Alarm.com management on my iPhone 4S (I’ll be upgrading when the next phone is released).

Favorite thing about working at IMH?
IMH really works hard to take care of its employees. This is shown through a number of perks and benefits to working here. From regular free meals on the company, bonuses in pay, and profit sharing are just some examples.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I’m a family guy who loves getting to do life with my wife and kids. I have a passion for technology and gadgets.

Open Source Central: Concrete5

concrete5

Have you used Concrete5 yet?  I think it’s my new favorite thing ever.  (Don’t tell WordPress I said that.)

What is Concrete5 you ask?  It’s an up and coming content management system (CMS) and it is taking over.  Quite frankly, I think I am ok with that.

It’s an ultra-lite, easy to use, über powerful CMS that caters to the broad range of site builders out there.  From designers to developers, to people like me who just go into a software and clunk around until something works, Concrete5 has the power and features to fulfill all our needs.

I was able to think, “I wonder what all this Concrete5 hype is about?”, then install it through Softaculous, and begin working on my site in a matter of minutes.  I kid you not.  Within 2 hours, I had a good-looking website with customized CSS and full content on the home, about, and contact me pages.

Now that Concrete5 and I are in love, I figured I’d share some of this excitement with you, our lovely readers.  Here is my list of the top 5 most awesome features of Concrete5.

 

The Top 5 Most Awesome Features of Concrete5

1.       Most themes are Responsive.

Yep.  Right out of the gate, most themes are built to be responsive or have a mobile version you can use.    Even better?  You can change the mobile theme to be different than the full site.  That way, if you want something a little simpler for those tiny cellphone screens, you just pick a different theme for the mobile version.  How cool is that?

Responsive

2.       Easy and optional SEO features.

Built right into the site format, you’ve got the ability to automatically add the Meta Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords!  It’s a one click choice.  This means you can select what to add and when, and it also means you have easy access to update your SEO keywords to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your customers and remaining competitive with search engines.

SEO

3.       Direct, on-page editing.

Are you looking for a point and click style builder that is easy to customize, has a wide variety or templates to choose from, and has the power to allow full site development?  Look no further.  Concrete5 is set up in blocks which show up in black dotted lines.

onpageediting

You pick which blocks you want to add by clicking within the black dotted lines.  Then, select add block.  This will open a pop up window where you can select what you want it to be.

onpageeditingaddblock

You can pick anything from adding navigation, to an image, even a YouTube video, right here on the page you’re working on!

You can see your site as you build it.  Most content management systems require that you work on the content and coding of the site in the back end.  That means you have to bounce back and forth between your code and the site to see the changes you are making.  While you will have to do that to some extent with Concrete5, you can get a good feel for the layout before delving into the code.

4.       The Marketplace.

Typically, when you want an add-on or theme, you have to look all over the internet to get all of your options.  Concrete5 simplifies that.  It’s all in one place, the Marketplace.  Any plugins or themes that you would like can be found right in the software, so you don’t have to stop working to get the functionality you want.

5.       Extreme Theme Customization.

You can customize your themes and add any CSS (custom style script) right in the theme.  Through your themes page, click the “Customize” button next to your selected theme.  This will open color options and the CSS entry.

Talk about easy control.  I love that I can make changes to the CSS and see it change right in the same screen.  Color matching on my site became so much easier when I didn’t have to open another window to see how the colors look together.

CSS

With its combination of simplicity and power, Concrete5 is an all in one CMS that is sure to meet your needs.

Go forth, give it a try, and tell us your thoughts in the comments below!  We’d love to know what features you loved best.

 

Creating Content: Surefire Ways to Inspire Written Content for Your Site

creating_contentI love to write, so for me, developing content for websites is easy.  As a matter of fact, I do it here at InMotion for some of our clients.

However, that experience has taught me that not everyone has the ability to sit down and put words to thoughts.  There’s nothing wrong with that, you know your business, if you’re a plumber, you know plumbing.  I’m a writer, so I know writing.

So how do you, as a plumber, jeweler, baker, or other tradesman, communicate your knowledge to your website easily?  It’s a big task, explaining what you do to a wide audience in writing for the world to see.  I assure you, you can do it without having to hire a professional content writer to do it for you.  After all, who knows your business better than you do?

I’m going to give you some tips and tricks for developing content for your website.  You’re getting insider hints on how to inspire the words and pick the best information to include on your website and where to place it.

Above the fold on your home page is prime real estate on your website.  So, keep the most important information there.  Anything you want your customers to be aware of as soon as they go to your website needs to be front and center.

What does “above the fold” mean?

Above the fold is a term for the area on a website that shows up at the top of the page.  Meaning, it’s the part of the site that you don’t have to scroll down to see.

Much like a newspaper headline, this information needs to be brief, to the point, and grab your visitor’s attention.

What to include above the fold:

  1. Your company name and logo.  Don’t leave any mystery about where the viewer is visiting.
  2. An easy to navigate site menu.  Anything to make getting around your site easier.
  3. Contact information.  If you want customers to call or email you as part of your business plan, put this up top.  Include any social media links you may have.
  4. A search feature.  If you have a blog, or anything informational, a search bar will help customers immediately get the information they need.
  5. Any promotions you are running.  If you have a sale or special, this is where to highlight it.  Make it big and brightly colored so it grabs attention.
  6. 1-3 important aspects of your business.  Ask yourself, what is the one thing I want people to know about my business?  Is it your customer service?  Your pricing?  Your credentials or knowledge?  Focus on that.  Then, in less than 200 words, explain it.  Your above the fold information should be graphic-based, so keep your words brief.

Don’t get too wordy with your home page.  Product or action images are great ways to get attention without overwhelming site visitors.

When writing your home page content, limit yourself to no more than 3 key aspects of your business.  Brainstorm your business and services and make a list.  Then narrow it down  to the most important and of that list, pick the top three.  Don’t worry, there will be a place for the other important features of your business, just not on the home page.

For example, the history of your company does not belong on the home page.  If you are including that, great!  This gives the customers something to connect to, but just make it a small phrase, not the whole history on the front of your site.  Try something like, “Established in 1997…” or “Locally owned and operated in Virginia Beach…”  Any more detail than that is more appropriate in the “About Us” section.

While making this list, call friends and family who know your business and ask them to describe it to you.  This may seem silly, but it’s important to have a feel for what outside parties think of the services you offer.  They may not fully match up with what you are trying to project.  If this is the case, your web content is a great place to revamp the image of your company.

In order to actually write the content for your home page, ask yourself these questions to get the inspiration flowing:

  1. Why is this important to me and my business?
  2. How do I display this in daily business operations?
  3. What have been the results of prioritizing this aspect of my business?

Keep your answers between 1 and 2 sentences here.  You can elaborate more in other pages of the site.  This is like teaser information.

Organize where you want your content laid out before you write.  That list you made before of the most important aspects of your business?  Use that as a starting point and outline where you want that information.  For example, you don’t want to introduce your prices in the About Us page.  Something that important deserves its own page.

Create an outline like this:

Home Page

  • Customer Service Focused
  • Guaranteed Pricing
  • Free Estimates

About Us

  • Family owned business.
  • Part of the local community for over 50 years.
  • Won best of local awards 12 years in a row.
  • Community Service projects.

Request A Quote

  • Free estimates
  • Guaranteed pricing
  • Contact form
  • Schedule and appointment

Get To Know Our Team

  • Staff photos
  • Staff credentials
  • Customer service focus
  • Short bios for staff members

Once you have those basic topics listed for each page, stick to them. Don’t try to put too much information on one page.  This will make it difficult to follow and your customers will lose interest in that page.  This makes finding information on your site tedious and can cause them to leave your site in search of another.

Even on pages further into your site, you want to keep the information short and sweet.  Try to keep your pages around 500 words total.  Break them up into short paragraphs, use lists to highlight important facts, and use images to depict things your words can’t.

Know your audience.  This seems simple, but if you are catering only to others in your field, you will not have to explain as much as you would if you were catering to novices or customers who know little to nothing about what you do.

When in doubt, find someone who fits your goal audience and ask them if what you have written makes sense.  Your site should be informative without being too complicated or too simple.  When writing, an outside opinion is invaluable.

Still not sure where to go from here?  Check below.  I’ve included a list of the questions I typically ask my content clients.  These questions usually give me enough understanding of my client’s business and goals that I can then use the answers to draft an entire site worth of content.

Answer the questions fully!  Provide as much information as you can and make lists of all the features where applicable.  This is not the place to cut words.  Once you have answered all these questions and have of paragraphs and pages worth of information, highlight all the parts that are the most critical.  If you’ve already made your list of SEO keywords, highlight any sentences where those keywords were used.

Once you’ve done that, all you have to do is string those highlighted sentences together in a way that makes sense. By using that information and just filling it into the pages you listed on your outline, you’ve got strong, relevant content.

Note: As you answer these questions, organize the answers, and think about the site layout, you may find that your original outline is not the best way to organize the site.  You might discover that two aspects are related and should be introduced together, but you have them on separate pages in your outline.  No worries.  Just adjust the outline to fit your changing needs.  It is a guide to keep your content focused, so it’s not set in stone.

  1. Describe your company or business plan.
  2. What services or products do you offer?
  3. Describe your work flow.  If you hand make products, what goes into it?  If you offer a service, how do you proceed when responding to a call or appointment?
  4. How long have you been in business?
  5. What made you decide to open your business?
  6. Have you won any awards or received any acknowledgements?
  7. What are your credentials?  What skills do you and your team bring to the business?
  8. What are others saying about you?  Include customer testimonials, local media, social media, and any word of mouth customers you are aware of.
  9. What are your business goals?
  10. What makes your business different from its competition?

Writing content is a lot of work, even when it comes easily to you. So, be prepared to take the time to do it properly.  But, don’t be afraid to make changes and updates to your content whenever applicable.  It is good to provide new information to your website regularly, so try to keep your site content fresh.

Team Member Profile: Joe Cartonia – Managed Hosting

personal_interview_banner_joe_cartoniaHometown: Buffalo, NY
Position: Managed Hosting Team – Level 2
InMotion team member since September 2009

How did you get started in this field?
My interest in technology started as a kid. I would take apart electronic devices to see how they worked, and of course put them back together. Soon I would be helping friends, neighbors, or anyone who asked, setup their computers and helped manage them.

Pretty soon, I took an interest in software and learned to code. I would build applications for people who needed something that didn’t exist — which is something I still enjoy doing.

Do you prefer working with hardware or software?
It’s hard for me to put one in favor of another. I enjoy hardware because I like building systems to move data. Whether over cable, Ethernet, satellite, or even radio. I really just like the challenges of setting these systems up.

With software, I get to take the hardware systems I built and create programs that use the data. I learned php fairly early, and it’s a language I understand pretty well.

Favorite online application?
There isn’t one application that I would say is my favorite. I’m not on social media, and I don’t use online applications all that often.

I would much rather build my own.

Coolest gadget?
Droid Razr Maxx HD. Fast. Thin. Has a Kevlar back. It’s a computer, TV, phone, all in your pocket.

Favorite thing about working at IMH?
You never know what you’re going to run into. With IMH, there are always new challenges and situations that need to be taken care of. Sometimes we get an issue that no one has dealt with before, so there is no answer because no one has found one yet. I really enjoy this part because I get to work with the customer to find the answer and get it working for them. I think it’s pretty cool that I get to be a part of the process.

Also, getting to work with new applications and the latest hardware is a lot of fun.