2015: The Year of Productivity

9 Ways to be More ProductiveStaying productive is one of the most challenging things we face in our daily lives. Whether working or taking care of things at home, we are busier than ever. And while it may seem that every day a new tool is developed to help make our lives easier, sometimes these tools serve as more of a distraction than an aid. So let’s cast all distractions aside and make 2015 the year we commit to being more productive. Here is a list of 9 things to help you do just that. Continue reading “2015: The Year of Productivity”

Choosing a Template: What to Look for and Why

Choosing a Template ImageIt’s not exactly news, but choice of template for your WordPress site is extremely important WordPress has an expansive collection of free and premium templates to choose from. But how can you decide which is the right one for you? Some websites, like TemplateMonster.com for example, have helpful filters that separate themes into categories and sort them by functions or features. But even if you do have specialized search capabilities to aid you in your endeavor, it still helps to have a comprehensive idea of your criteria.

Said criteria will be determined by the type of website you’re looking to launch. Will it be a business? A news blog? A station for content curation? Or are you just looking for a space to share your thoughts? Whichever happens to be your M.O. it will have a determining effect on the type of functionality your website will require. Today we’ll go over the basics of picking and choosing among the many potential templates subject to your scrutiny.

Universal Concerns

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While template choice is often a very subjective experience, in this day and age there are certain interdisciplinary “must haves” that every website owner needs to take under consideration.

How much do you want to $pend?

Budgetary concerns are invariably near the top of the list in regards to priorities. You can always go the basic route and download a free template, but don’t expect any bells and/or whistles. You get what you pay for, and if you’re getting a free downloadexpect the bare minimum.

Therefore it might be wise to loosen your purse strings a bit. Fortunately, most premium WP themes don’t hit the wallet too hard. You can usually procure just about any theme you like for between $50 and $80.  The only time you’ll really have to stretch your dollar is while shopping for a custom theme.

Custom themes are built from scratch by a developer, and since you’re paying for labor, it won’t be so easy on the bank account. Depending on what you want in terms of looks, function, and complexity a custom theme can be quite costly. You can save a little bit of dough by starting out with a premium theme and then having your hired help tweak it to a minor degree, rather than building from scratch.

Support

We all need a little help here and there, and purchasing a premium theme usually goes hand in hand with excellent support. Though you shouldn’t just assume that this is the case. Do your research: read reviews and see what the brand perception of a theme provider looks like before committing.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is always an important consideration when establishing any sort of web presence. The way your website is organized, the keywords you use to attract attention, and a myriad set of other factors all combine to make your website scannable and easily indexible to search spiders.

The obvious goal is to make the front page, and that’s completely impossible if your template doesn’t have a framework that’s compliant with the latest Google SEO standards.

WordPress usually comes SEO friendly out of the box, but you need to be careful if you’re paying to build a custom theme. This is another reason why support is so important. With an active support community, you can be sure that your template will be updated to match the latest web standards.

Responsive

Responsively designed websites are those that display attractively across multiple devices, regardless of screen size, and without any mobile redirects. Web templates need to be built responsive these days because mobile use is so extremely prevalent.

Unless you’re positive that your visitors won’t be browsing your site on a smartphone or tablet, it’s best to take care of this concern from the get go by purchasing a responsive template.

Specifics

DESIGN DETAILSNow that we’ve covered some of the universal concerns, it’s time to speak with specificity. This choices described in this section will largely be determined by your personal preferences, as well as your unique needs.

Aesthetics

You know what’s useless? A WordPress template that you don’t find attractive. If it doesn’t look good, then what good is it? Your web presence needs to say something about your company, and your company should be a reflection of your personality. So make sure you actually like the look of your template.

That’s not to say that as long as you like it, it’ll be perfect. Certain things are expected from different types of websites. Corporate sites are generally reserved, minimalist, clean, and adhere to a color scheme that promotes trust, calm, and tranquility. Whereas templates dedicated to design are far more artistic, colorful, and fancy.

Read up on design basics if you’re not already familiar and make some informed decisions.

Needed functionality

Here we arrive at the really important stuff. What do you absolutelyneed your website to do? If you’re opening an online store, then you’ll need a usable system for product imports and exports, featured products on a slider, an opt-in form to gain new leads, and so much more. If you’re web presence is all about event promotion, then you’ll need a calendar function. Do you need to interact with your visitors? Then you’ll have to have sections for them to comment on your content, live chat boxes, etc.

All of your WP template’s needed functionality is completely determined by your personal needs, so carefully consider what you want and need from your theme.

Flexibility

Finally, you want your WP theme to be flexible. The World Wide Web is constantly in flux, and so are expectations regarding webpages. It shouldn’t have to be a problem to alter or edit according to your shifting priorities. For example, you should be able to change the color of a banner or background without much trouble. You don’t want to be buried underneath lines of complex code for the simplest of aesthetic choices.

Nor should it be an issue to add widgets/plugins as you see fit. Sometimes the addition of certain plugins can slow a website down or seriously hinder some vital parts of its functionality. If this is going to be the case for your chosen template, then you’ll want to know up front. The idea is to look for seamless backend editing.

These are just a few of the concerns you’ll want to look out for when choosing the perfect theme. If you’re ready to begin browsing, then take a look at some of the powerfully functional premium templates here.

SSL for SEO?

DOES A SECURITY CERTIFICATE EQUAL A RANKINGS BOOST?

Back in March 2014, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Webspam, said he personally wanted SSL to be a ranking factor. Well, that time has come — and probably quicker than most people expected.  Well…somewhat.  As of now, adding an SSL 2048-bit key certificate will only provide a minor boost to your site.  In fact, Google says it affects “fewer than 1% of global queries” and does not carry as much weight as “other signals such as high-quality content” which only goes to show you, as always, content is king.

Google has said it wants all “website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.” So, there is a good chance we could see that ranking signal strengthen over time.

According to Google, it will release more information on this in the future, but in the meantime, Google has provided the following tips:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or a wildcard certificate.
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates.
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain.
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains.
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address.
  • Do not block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt.
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN TERMS OF SEO?

Installing an SSL will not miraculously boost your website to the top of the search results. But, as Google continues its “HTTPS everywhere” push, it will definitely become something about which you want to remain aware. Especially if Google continues to encourage all website owners to do it.

HOW TO MAKE THE SWITCH

In order to make the switch to HTTPS your website will need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate.  SSLs are protocols that establish a secure link between a web server and a browser.  They provide a way for social security numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information to transmit securely between a user and a website without being intercepted by a third party.

PURCHASE AN SSL THROUGH INMOTION HOSTING

Purchasing an SSL Certificate through InMotion Hosting takes just 5 simple steps:

Step 1. Login to AMP (Account Management Panel)

Step 2. Click the Purchase SSL Certificate button.

How to Purchase an SSL Certificate
How to Purchase an SSL Certificate

Step 3. Select the SSL Certificate’s subscription length (ie. 1 or 2 years) and the Desired Certificate Name.

Step 4. Enter the contact information for the owner of the SSL Certificate.

Step 5. Choose how you want the SSL billed, then click Submit. You will then see the following message: “Your order has been submitted for processing. Please look for a follow up from our staff shortly.” 

The typical turn-around time is up to 48 hours.  However, in some cases, an SSL may take longer to issue.  Once your SSL certificate has been installed successfully, you will receive an email notification to your primary email address on file.  After you get the SSL installed, you can show the Secure Comodo Seal on your website.  Check out our guide on how to show the secure seal for your site.

We also have a guide with more in-depth instructions on how to purchase an SSL through InMotion Hosting.