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Is your website meeting legal guidelines? Do you know what legal notices you should have on your website, to ensure you and your site are protected? Many website owners skip adding legal notices to their site because they aren’t sure that is needed and/or what it should say, today our Guest Blogger and Attorney Merissa V. Grayson from The Law Office of Merissa V. Grayson, is sharing with us the 5 Legal notices you should have on any website.
In today’s society, there have been so many major technological advances over the last decade. We have gone from the pen and paper world, to the computer world, from classified newspapers and the yellow pages in the phone book, to the internet.
I know I know…it’s a bit confusing. But, here are some of the standard notices all website owners should consider:
Disclaimer- A disclaimer is a statement about how people can use and access the information on your site. The purpose is to limit your liability for site visitors’ use of the information or services provided by your site. Disclaimers are often used by those who have a lot of information and resources on their site such as blogs, articles, external links, etc. Common disclaimers include:
- Site content: If your site is informational (such as a blog), a disclaimer can inform users that the information on your site is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.
- User posted content: If your site contains a forum or other means for visitors to submit comments or other content, a disclaimer can warn site visitors that the forum/contents are not monitored and may contain content that is not endorsed by you.
- External Link: If you and/or site users link to any outside websites or resources, a disclaimer can be used to clarify that you are not responsible for the site’s accuracy, not endorsing the site and that the information in it is not your own.
Terms and Conditions-Most websites should contain terms and conditions. Terms and conditions let site visitors know your site rules. This is how you let users know how they can and cannot use your website such as:
- How to credit content and/or pictures if they use it (i.e. crediting images, links back to the site, etc.)
- Whether site membership is required to post comments or other content
- Who can use your site: Age restrictions that (i.e. underage 15 requires adult permission), Geographical restrictions (i.e. If you are only licensed to conduct business in specific states/countries, etc.)
- Rights to use or remove-Situations that may result in users comments/comments being deleted (i.e. “spamming is not tolerated and will result in removal of your comments).
- Right to re-use or reproduce- lets users acknowledge that any content they submit to your site doesn’t infringe on intellectual property laws and that they give you permission to re-use or reproduce it.
Intellectual Property Notices- Your copyrights, patents, and trademarks are your intellectual property. It’s important to have Intellectual property notices on your site so your visitors will know who owns the rights to information, slogans, logos, etc. on your site and how they may use that information. (i.e. “any content downloaded/obtained from this site may be used for non-commercial use only”). These notices can also be used to let users know if you plan to claim the rights to any content posted by them to your site.
Legal Jurisdiction- Stating the state, country, etc. your website originates in and is associated with lets visitors know what laws you are operating under. It puts them on notice as to where they should file a lawsuit against you (not that anyone would want to sue you right?) and could prevent you from being sued in foreign jurisdictions where the laws are different than those your site operates under.
More Tips to keep your Website protected:
- If you are unsure on what notices you need, you should consult with an attorney. In the meantime, it’s better to be safe than sorry: it makes more sense to have a notice that is not required than to not have one that is required.
- Make sure your legal notices are placed in an obvious place on your website.
- Make sure you and all your staff members, including volunteers, understand the notices
- Keep your disclaimers up to date.
Do you need more help with the type of content your should have on your website? Download my free eBook Website Content Workbook: A Guide for what should go inside your Website.
Merissa V. Grayson is the principal attorney at The Law Office of Merissa V. Grayson. Her firm focuses on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Small Business & Entertainment. The Small Business & Entertainment division of the firm helps those pursuing entrepreneurship or a career in the entertainment industry make choices that are best for them to ensure that their career and/or business is fully protected and aligned with their objectives. www.merissagraysonlaw.com /www.justsouknow.info
….and reasons why it’s critical to watch what you put on the internet
As an artist I understand that a creative professional’s design work, photography, website, etc. are like our babies, we work really hard making them perfect and then you birth them into the world and hold your breath as they grow. Sometimes the work is used effectively and you get see it at its fullest potential meeting the clients highest expectations, and sometimes you see it used, misused, altered, and floating around the internet. But this post isn’t just for creative professionals; the same can go for any industry with products, services, etc. Whatever you produce is your baby until it meets the world..
Putting your work online is a gamble.
I was reminded of this ‘your work is your baby’ analogy by a recent exchange on Facebook. A photographer’s work was snatched from their blog, doctored by adding text, and then posted on Facebook. The photographer and the subjects of the photo did not want it on Social media and photographer was pretty upset when she saw the post. I won’t mention names or repost the photo, but it became a very sensitive/ heated conversation. If you saw a cute out take photo of the baby sleeping on dad as he served as the prop, then you know what I’m talking about.
Either way the conversation took a number of twist and turns, but the bottom line was the photographer did not understand how and why someone would do this to her work without permission. She even went on to threaten legal action, site copyright laws, etc. I am in no way defending the person who did this, but the #1 rule of the internet is once your work hits the net it takes on a life of its own. Much like letting a kid loose in the playground; children go out and play meet other children, run to the slide, swing on the swing, and enjoy life. The good thing about kids and playgrounds is they don’t go far and they always comeback, unfortunately the internet is not so forgiving.
Have your images or work ever been “Catfished”?
Every designer, artist, musician, photographer, etc. has experienced the “borrowing”, destruction, misuse, and downright disrespect of their work; it’s one of those occupational hazards we deal with. With the boom of social media, internet, instagram, snap chat, and other tools that make it even easier for the average user to save a picture, make changes, and repost as their own these incidents have increased greatly. Remember the ugly face picture of Beyonce from the Super bowl performance, by the end of that week I saw the same picture and Beyonce was green with muscles like the incredible Hulk ( isn’t photo shop great) . Many times this is not done to be malicious or break a law, but it’s really because the person thinks it’s funny or cute. Most aren’t familiar with fair use and copyright laws and they aren’t trying to discredit the creator of the work or make a profit it’s just to share (since that’s what facebook wants us to do any way right?). It’s just like the kids at the playground sometimes they come back a little different then you sent them out there, like with a bruised knee, ripped jean, or lost hair bow.
So what’s an business website owner to do?
Here are few quick tips about protecting your work/products on line and ways to possibly avoid the unwelcome exchange I saw this week”
- Accept the inevitable. Tt’s going to happen if it’s on your blog website whatever, it may make it to twitter, Facebook and beyond
- If the response if good say thank you and claim it, if not distance yourself from it even remove from your site or original posting.
- Only put up work you would want your highest paying client to see. If it’s not your best or not ready don’t post. Read my recent post on building a portfolio website for more tips on what work should and should not go on your site.
- Get the clients permission to post everywhere, not just certain place. In the story above the clients said OK to the blog, but not social media. There is no way to control where right-click save will lead you so it’s best not to post at all.
- Don’t be fooled by the security of watermarks and anti-saving programs. These may deter some stealing, but they won’t stop screen captures, advanced Photoshop skills, folks taking pictures of pictures.
- Know when to fight it. Although theft is inevitable you don’t always have to walk away, if you can identify a culprit and or if another business is making money off of your work then you better fight it, send letters get lawyers, whatever. A Facebook share is one thing but defamation and profit stealing is a whole other ball game.
- Don’t post or show off the work until you clients have revealed it first. I’ve seen to many times where a new logo or web design is on the designer’s website before it hits the clients.
The bottom line is to succeed in the online marketplace you have to put your work online. You can’t keep your work from everywhere on the internet just like you can’t hold a kid back on the playground, but you can take steps to make sure it is ready and keep it safe. And just like with kids unpredictable things will happen, and sometimes it may be worse than a trip to the playground.
Every photographer, artist, designer, and even contractors needs a portfolio website. A good digital portfolio online that you can use to advertise on social media, direct potential clients to view additional work, and promote Search Engine results for new clients to ses. When you’re product is based on how your finished product looks and examples of past visual work, cools websites with plenty of great examples is a must. This brings us to the infamous portfolio websites; many visual business owners treat what should be a portfolio site like an online picture book or photography gallery. The site is set up for visitors to aimlessly flip through photos, with little text to sell you on the project, and they often aren’t optimized for viewers experience or SEO. The work may be great but the lack luster way it’s displayed on a website can take away from attracting customers and the lack of text kills your search engine results so would be clients won’t find your amazing work.
Does this sound like your website?
In this post, I’m going to discuss a few key elements to a good portfolio website. No matter what you’re niche or your medium, if your business is based on showing what you do these portfolio tips will help you site live up to its best potential.
- Show your best pictures. This is a no brainer, right? Wrong I see this one messed up all of the time, even did it myself in the beginning. Many times artist put everything they’ve done online, the good, bad, and sometimes ugly. Just because you have unlimited disk space doesn’t mean you should use it. Take the time to edit your portfolio showing your best projects in various categories. For example a wedding photographer could show endless banquet fall weddings but a really cool website would show banquet, farm, and beach weddings; showing your depth of work in any setting.
- Professionally stage and display your work. If you have a physical product like sculpting, architecture, landscaping or contractor every 3-6 months (or after a big job) have a professional photographer come in and take quality photos of your work. If you’re work is digital take an extra minute to mock it up (i.e. cards look like stacks of cards, brochure in a brochure mock up, etc) make it look as realistic as possible. When items are professional displayed visitors will automatically perceive it as more valuable.
Here’s a TIP for graphic designers: You can find pre-made mockup templates on GraphicRiver.net, for less than $10 buy a digital pack and use them to quickly set up your work for display) Here’s an example of my work before and after I mocked it up
- Categorize your work. Showing all of your work lumped together can often be confusing and distracting to web site visitors. Most visitors are initially looking for a specific type of work (i.e. websites, logos, kitchens, etc) so use albums to separate pictures into categories so it’s easy to locate what they are looking for. This also helps the visitor compare your work if I’m look at pictures of all bathrooms I can tell that the contractor consistently does well with them, if I’m looking at a bathroom, kitchen, and dining room, it’s hard to tell if the good work is consistent or a lucky try.
- Write something at about the project. Pictures are nice but search engines and humans who can read look for text. Great portfolio websites provide caption or additional information to give you an idea of the type of project you’re viewing and the goal that was achieved. You can share interesting information about the client, what the goal of the project was, what materials or software was used, links to the client if they are another business. Keep the write up brief (fewer than 100 words) but share something to let visitors get more intimate with the project and how it met the customer’s goal. If the client gave you a testimonial it’s a good Idea to add right to the project page.
- Use Alt-tags on photos. This is another tip with Search Engines and SEO in mind. Search engines don’t see photos they only see text so to help them find your photos make sure you put an alt tag on all of them. Avoid generic descriptions give something a little more descriptive, like instead of “website” say “children’s room décor website” this give search engines a better idea of what the picture is and increases your chance in showing up in search of people looking for your specific kind of work.
These quick tips can easily take your portfolio from good to great; and help attract more visitors, clients, and engage them once they get there.
Do you need help setting up your portfolio website or determining is your current site makes the grade? Contact us for a complimentary consultation we’d love to help your business shine online.
Analysis of your website is just as important as building the site. Regular analysis helps you determine what is working and what is not working on your and your social media strategy can you can focus your efforts on where you need to improve and continue those that are doing well. A great analysis tool that I’ve been using for a few years is Hubspot’s Marketing Grader.
Marketing Grader gives you data about how your site it performing outside of the site in the online community (i.e. search engine rankings, content sharing, blog analysis, performance on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, etc. ). You give the Marketing Grader your site URL and based on 3 categories ,top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and analytic, it gives you a ranking from 1-100. This is a real time real time number so it may change from day to day but I think a safe number is anything above an 80 is pretty good (60-70 if you’re not blogging). The Marketing Grader also gives you a detailed report on things you can do to boost your score in the 3 areas, and since the results are real time there are some changes you can make and come back and rerun your site and see an instant boost. The other great thing about Marketing Grader is you can compare your site to other sites, you can put in the URLs of competitor sites or other sites you see doing well online and compare your scores. And you can automate the report if you sign up for an account (it’s free) they’ll email you a weekly report.
I’ve been using the Marketing Grader for years and it has really helped me to fine tune my online presence and focus on the changes that were needed to boost my score. So give it a try run your site through marketing grader and let us know what your score it today and maybe a few ways your going to boost it.
As many of you may know I love to shop. Off-line, online, anywhere, I love to shop. But I hate to shop on shoddy looking websites, websites that don’t meet my expectations, or any web site that looks questionable and thrown together. It’s almost sad to see a great product posted on FB and when I click the link to purchase, I can’t bare to give them my credit information, or i’m afraid even using pay pal I’ll never see my purchase.
Since it’s that time of year for major ONLINE SHOPPING,I figured I’d take this month to help as many online retailers as I can make sure they are inviting and not scaring their consumers. Last week I shared with the readers of LaunchWhileWorking.com 10 Ways to Get Your Website Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season. I talked about ways to make your site friendly, inviting, and how to encourage people visit and shop. This week is our Part 2. It’s great to get visitors to your site, but the key is to get them stay and shop. It is just as important to know how not to scare customers away from your site as it is to know how to get them there.
I know I’m not alone in my hate strong dislike for a bad online store, so for today’s post I collected feedback from various online groups. I asked average shoppers, business owners, and even other web designers; what do they look for when shopping online and what makes them to decided to shop or not to shop.
Here’s some of their feedback about Online shopping:
“Before purchasing, I look for coupons/promo codes online” -Lakesha B. (from http://uncommonchick.com)
“their choice of payment gateway service provider” (Editor’s note: many consumers prefer small business sites to have trusted source like PayPal, Google Checkout, or Authorize.net) -Sherree S. (from www.sapersteinandassociates.info)
“Payment must also be secure and recognized name brand like PayPal or Amazon before I’ll give up credit card info.”- Anthony Q. A.
“For me, the experience needs to be as easy as Amazon or iTunes. I trust Paypal payments and Verisign. As few steps as possible”- Troy N.
“Amazon is my FAVORITE!!!! Only because I just simply trust them and they make shopping easy. Another one for me is to be able to access someone in case I need something or if my order goes wrong.”- Tee M.
“I always look for the trusted online security icon at the bottom of the website.” Charlotte H. T.
On Site design and content
“User friendly sites, clear message, return policy. Pricing when there’s products being sold, contact information email and phone number, and guarantee statement”- Tawawn L.
“IS it (the website) complete? A bio? Articles, contact info.”- Ann E.
“spelling errors & tackiness & then coupons “ -Manicurist Candice V.
“Customer comments, user friendly site, return policy, customer service contact info easy to find.“-Golda S. (from www.goldasmith.com)
“The most important thing to me from jump is a professional looking website and purchasing system. It’s so easy nowadays to create a good clean website, that if I see something that looks dated or poorly put together, I automatically take it as a bad reflection of the business, since it’s such an easy and crucial thing to get right. After that, I like a layout that makes it easy to browse multiple products and go back and forth. If it takes too many clicks, I’m probably outta there. “- Anthony Q. A.
On customer feedback
“I look for referrals and testimonials and the website design.”- Frances F.
“site security and credibility (BBB rating, etc.)”- Montisha S.
“comments from other consumers is excellent and BBB rating. I just dealt with a company who had no BBB rating which is not required. Well needless to say, me and several hundred people have lawsuit on this company.” Anonymous
“Depends on what the product/service is. It’s usually the sales copy that gets me going.” - Natima N. (from
“Security, comments from other consumers, product information and customer service contact hours.”- Niki C.
“If it’s software – documentation. If they have no instructions or poorly written instructions I don’t usually make a purchase. I also look for their policies – if they have 30, 60, 90 day return/refund policy I feel better. If not it’s a hard sale for me. If they have an forum and they have not answered or responded to people’s questions, or been snotty about it – I pass too”- Tai G ( from www.launchwhileworking.com)
So there you have it feedback from everyday consumers and business owners here’s a post with a few of their answers hopefully this will give you some ideas encouragement always to improve your shop to make to meet customers expectation.
WordPress is an amazing Content Management System and web authoring tool, but these days you need a little more than a nice site to really impress visitors. There are plenty of 3rd party applications you can sign up and integrate with your site, but often they require a high volume and additional cost. Overall the years I have found several FREE (or mostly free) WordPress Plugins that add functionality to your website and make it more interactive.
Customers are looking for sites where they not only can learn more about the business, but also they can contact, set up appointments, and overall interact with the company. The longer a visitor stays on your site the more likely that are to become a customer. And giving existing clients something to do on your site gives them incentive to keep visiting, and gives you another opportunity to introduce them to more products and services. So below I’ve listed 6 great plugins that I’ve used on my site and clients, that you can use to add functionality.
This is a simple newsletter plugin. It has an opt-in form which can place on a page or widget to collect visitors’ names and emails. And a full newsletter tool to create newsletters from your post, and send it to the emails you’ve collected. There is also list export tool so if and when you’re ready to move to a 3rd party newsletter application you can export your list and never lose a contact.
This plugin allows you to offer appointment scheduling right on your website (see our new Booking page). You can set you’re availability in the calendar tools and visitors can pick the available time and date they’d like to meet. Once an appointment is selected the time slot becomes unavailable, and an email is sent to you and the customer. An added bonus you can integrate with your PayPal account and charge for appointments.
The WATS plugin adds help desk support ticket functionality right to your website. This is definitely a great added benefit to your clients if you offer any type of support services or maintenance plans. Instead of repeated calls and emails they can submit support ticket and check back to its progress.
Don’t settle for the standard contact page form use a good contact form plugin to build questionnaires, there are many nice contact form plug-ins out there but my top pick is Contact Form 7. First I love that’s its FREE: D, the other it allows you create horizontal and vertical forms. Last, each form has its own short code so it’s easy to add forms to a page, post or even multiple forms if you’d like. The data collections possibilities are endless.
I found this plugin while working with a politician in a multilingual community, he was looking for way to make his website available to all of his constituents. This little plugin worked so well I added it to my site (check out my footer). The plugin adds a widget that allows you to choose from a drop down of about 20 languages, when selected it uses the Google translate function to translate your entire site text, titles, etc. I’ve had the translation checked by several
The WP Event Ticketing plugin makes it easy to sell and manage tickets for your event. This plug-in gives you a lot of the functionality of Eventbrite right on your website. You can set up multiple tickets sale packages, set sales limits, get robust reporting, etc. I’ve used the plugin for ticketed events, virtual events, and class registrations. A great plug in if your business holds a few events per year. The only limit I’ve found with this plug-in is it works best if you only have one event at a time other than that it’s perfect.
Have you found any great plugins that add functionality to your wordpress website or tried any of these? If so, add them to the comments below.
Everyone engages on Social media these days, and has lost (or maybe never knew) the value of leaving comments on blogs and websites. Comments can do a lot more for you than spamming sites or saying quick hello, a few well placed and well crafted comment can boost your SEO, build valuable business relationships, or even *gasp* get you a new client. So let’s talk about all the great reasons you should be commenting more.
I thought about this topic after reading a great blog post the other day, and I was about to head over to the authors Facebook when I remembered some of the great things I learned in the NYC WordPress meet up about SEO. And I decided to stay right on the page and comment there. Here’s why:
Commenting can boost your SEO and backlinks.
Backlinks are links back to the content on your page these backlinks give search engines an idea of how popular and relevant you site is. The assumption is if enough sites are linking to you, you must have some pretty good content. Most blog comment sections have a place for you to post your URL so this would be an automatic link to you, also I you have post relevant to the topic on your site you may want to share it in the discussion. I will warn you some smaller sites hate linking in comments (it seems very spammy) but if you actually use it as a discussion point you’ll be less likely to get deleted. All of the back links boost your SEO and even better expose you site to a new groups of readers more likely to be interested in your niche.
Commenting helps builds relationships.
It’s important to build relationships with other business owners, blog owners etc. If there blog is important enough for you to read then they are probably important enough to get to know. You never know where your next referral, collaboration, or even (reduced price) help will come from. Commenting on ones blog can help open the door to them visiting your blog and returning the favor and the start of a great business friendship (note I highly recommend you visit those who comment on your blog too).
Comments can expose you to a new market of potential followers or clients.
Here are 2 facts 1) someone will read the post you are reading after you and 2) that someone shares some common interest with you because you are reading the same things. So……if you get the before the next reader and leave and engaging comment then it is a pretty good chance that someone after you will read your comment. It’s not a hundred percent but there is a chance that if the reader likes or agrees with your comment that they’ll visit your website. It’s not often but every once in a while I’ll see a hit that came to my website a site I commented on. The World Wide Web is just that a web, one click leads to another click, which takes you to another click. So why not make sure you have many clicks out there as possible.
So there you have 3 good reasons while you should take the extra minute and comment on someone’s page instead of heading back to social media (or even better comment on both)
But before you go commenting crazy, have to remind you of a few Comment Etiquette Rules:
- Say more than just “hi”, “hello”, “great post” or any other generic line, mention the topic answer the question posed, let the writer know you really read the post.
- Don’t overly post your links, it’s a reference to the topic or helps answer the question add it to the comment, if not be happy with generic your website link.
- Don’t spam, this goes with the linking don’t mentioning your business or what you do is just as bad if it’s not relevant. I wouldn’t visit a makeup blog and mention I do websites, that’s rude.
- Don’t be rude, disrespectful, harassing or anything close to it, remember many of these comments are searchable so do you want a potential client to see you were flaming the author on another blog. There is always a respectful way to disagree, find it or don’t comment
- Don’t overdo it, it’s great to visit a blog or even be a regular on the site but I find it hard to believe that you have something to say about EVERYTHING someone writes. Visit but don’t stay
- Don’t comment and run, make sure you check back or click the email reply box so yo u can see when someone replys to your comment or even comment on someone else.
I think those are enough rules to help get you commenting started the right way. Now that you’re motivated to start commenting, why not start here let me know some of your comments practices, add to the commenting don’t list, if you blog let me know what you wish more commenters would do?
This question always comes up when talking about websites. From novice/beginners to expert/developers, everyone’s first questions is who’s you’re webhost. I’ve even had heated and sometime enlightening discussions on webhosting. And after this weeks big Go Daddy outage (read about it here), I figured I’d write a post about who I use, who I won’t use, some other good names and of course why.
Note, I’m not the hosting “expert” buttttt I’ve been hosting my own sites for about 10 years, I resell hosting to my clients, and I build and maintain sites for clients on a variety of host. So while I admit I don’t eat, breath, sleep hosting I will say I’ve been living with it for quite awhile. The other thing I’ll note is my experiences are my own or my clients, not every host is a 100% good, bad , or ugly so you may or may not have experienced some other thing I point out, and you may not agree with my assessments and that is OK.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten through all of the disclaimers, LOL (I told you this can be a heated topic, I had to cut off the angry comments before they come my way) let’s get down to my recommendations and the ones I personally use.
Our Top Website hosts
Inmotion Hosting (http://www.inmotionhosting.com) is my favorite and original hosting company. I went with them years ago because they had solid reviews and allow multiple sites under 1 account for a good price I can have six completely separate sites. I’ve been with them for 6 years if the offered reseller hosting I set up with them too. The only reason why I don’t use them for all of my needs is they don’t offer resell hosting and when I first started searching for hosting for 1 just one site their prices just weren’t competitive enough to recommend to my customers. Today I took a look at the site in preparation for this article and it looks like their business hosting package has got a lot better. To this day I still have 3 or my own sites on inmotion including this one.
Dot5hosting (http://www.dot5hosting.com/join/index.bml?AffID=575118 (affiliate link). This is my number one client recommended hosting. I offer my clients’ options: I can design on their existing hosting, I can host them on my resell hosting, or I can recommend a solid hosting service that I’ve used for years. This was my original option before I resell and I still recommend it for those clients that prefer to have service provided by different service providers. Most clients don’t need the Multi sites InMotion Hosting offers so I looked for the same superior quality, reliability, and great price to recommend to my clients. Since I started recommending them I’ve had clients on them for over 5 years going strong great support, several of those clients now self-maintain their sites and I haven’t gotten any complaints regarding learning and using the hosting. I’ve never had an issue with uptime, security, or getting a live person on a call late at night.
Site5 Hosting (http://www.site5.com) I resell hosting to new clients, and this who I’ve used for about a year and a half no major complaints, up time has been great, service notifications always give you plenty of time and reminders so you can fully support your clients. There is also very good documentation on being a reseller and they even offer a fee free Premium WordPress Themes. The only thing I’m not 100% with is there customer support. The primary way to contact the support is online chat, I have been able to contact support all times of the night which is great but sometimes it’s hard to communicate the problem via chat. I’ve had a few chat conversations where I longed for a customer service number to call.
Honorable Mentions for Good Website Hosting
In addition to those I personally use I also have a few honorable mentions that I’ve either used because a client had it from a previous sites, or it’s been highly recommend by some of my designer/developer friends. Those would be
BlueHost: I’ve used Blue for the last 2 years through a client; it was one of the few clients provided host that I’ve been really impressed with the WordPress install is pretty seamless, great uptime, and solid support. In addition, to my personal experience Blue host was also recommended by Michael Hyatt in recent video on setting up WordPress. I’m so impressed by their hosting that I will be looking at their resell options shortly
HostGator: I’ve previously overlooked Host Gator, but more and more I’m hearing more web professionals like myself talk about how great Host Gator is. The latest Host Gator conversation that had this week at a WordPress meet up prompted me to add it to this list. A well-known security professional raved about the security parameters at Host Gator. With security being such a growing concern these days any host with such high security recommendation is worth a second and a third look in my book.
The Bad in Website Hosting
Well now that I told you about the all of the host I love I have to tell you a little (I’m not going to go host bashing) about the ones I don’t like:
GoDaddy: Yes I am among one billion GoDaddy
haters dislikers (probably 2 billion after this week’s episode) but for good reason. I have 2 clients still on Godaddy, support has been a challenge and from a designer stand point accessing back end files, databases, running server side scripts is horrible. In addition, several years ago I was the victim of the dreaded domain snatch, I used them for domain service (www.greedygirlsguide.com, for those that remember my blog), and after a year when my blog proved to be pretty popular magically my renewal date moved up 2 months and my domain was snatched. When I attempted to renew GoDaddy wanted several hundred dollars (domains usually cost $15) to reclaim my domain. So yeah for those reasons I’ll never use or recommend Go Daddy.
Network Solutions: This is another holder over from the meet up this week. At the mention of network solutions several pros in the room emphatically yelled out NOOO!!!!. So with so many options out there why even try it.
FatCow Hosting: This is the last of my no no list. I’ve had fat cow for 2 years. I initially purchased to test it out for my clients because of it’s low low price, about $50 dollars a year. Well after the fir3-4 months of numerous outages I never could or would recommend it to anyone especially my clients. I’m just waiting for the time to run out to move the inactive site I have on there.
So that’s my round up. What hosting praise or horror stories do you have? Tell me you thoughts on you host and add to the great host debate.
When considering the best way to build and launch your business website you want to make a choose that’s best for your company. You should look for a solution that is flexible, cost effective, allows for growth and easy change, and most of all attracts customers and gives them the information they are looking for. Many fortune 500 companies and news outlets use CMS systems to power their website because using a CMS is S.M.A.R.T. not your usual goal setting smart (Scalable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) but choosing a CMS has its own S.M.A.R.T benefits. CMSs are Scalable, Manageable, Affordable, Retrievable and Timely (ok they have one thing in common).
Let’s talk about what CMS is and why it’s such an S.M.A.R.T. choice for small businesses
A content management system (CMS) is: is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content on a web site as well as maintenance from a central page. It provides procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual steps or automated cascade.
There are many popular CMS systems some of them are completely free to use like Joomla, Drupal, and my personal favorite WordPress.
Now that we know what a CMS system is let’s talk about what makes it so S.M.A.R.T.
1. Scalable: Most CMS systems allow for easy growth, making it easier to do things like add a blog or eCommerce portal without the need for a costly redesign. CMS systems also make it easier to add pages and sections to your site as your business and content grows Using a CMS platform like WordPress lets you update one page at a time, and doesn’t require bringing down pages or reloading the whole site to add make additions.
2. Manageable: Having a CMS provides for better website management, with most CMSs after the initial set up its very easy to train either you or your staff to make routine updates on your own (i.e. add text, pictures, ect.) . You can give staff, contributors, or even an assistant’s limited access to just make site to make updates to the site’s content, without giving them access to the full site structure. This frees up you designer and developer resources for adding creating new functionality and reduces the need to have someone doing this full time.
3. Affordable: Many CMS platforms are free and open source. You biggest expenses is the design, set up, and add-ons. You can either pay this expense with time (learning the CMS and building yourself) or funding (paying a designer), many small businesses invest the time to learn their preferred CMS and create a starter site themselves. But the preferred method is to bring a designer to do the initial set up and load, and reap the long term savings with less maintenance cost. Many designer firms including AKZMe Designs offer affordable CMS packages where they design a custom site, set everything up, and train you and your staff on the day to day updates. Design companies also offer special CMS maintenance where they handle, backups, updates and major issue for a small fee and you control the rest. Although it doesn’t sound as good as free its saves you in the long run with time, custom design work, costly set issues, and themes and plug in cost. Free isn’t completely free but it’s still very affordable.
4. Retrievable: One of the major benefits of all CMS platforms is their search engine capabilities, because of the database structure and metadata used in many CMS platforms they are automatically search engine friendly and have built in SEO functionality. It is easy for any search engine to scan and index your data and retrieve the best results for any search engine search. Also the easy user interface in most CMS like WordPress make it really easy for any user to add tags and meta data to post, pictures, and any elements within the site. This is tagging that takes designers and developers hours to code into a site.
5. Timely: Working with a CMS save you and your designer time both in the initial build of a site the site and regular updates. Because a CMS site is built on a specific platform there is already a base for development even for a fully customized site. In addition adding functionality such as shopping care or share buttons requires less hand coding and can often be achieved using various plug-ins. In addition to the time saved during development updates are also much faster instead of opening a page and updating code many day to day changes can be made in a text editor type environment. Even more extensive site wide changes are made to the theme or template, hence reducing the need to update every page and reload it your site.
Well there it is if you weight the needs of your small business compared to the benefits of a CMS, you’ll clearly see a CMS is the S.M.A.R.T. choice.
Do you still have questions about reasons you should or should not use a CMS? Do you have other S.M.A.R.T. reason to share (I have at least 2 more but I’ll save that for the next post)? Or have you already made the S.M.A.R.T. choice and started using a CMS? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Don’t worry if you missed you can catch the full interview HERE !!!
Last night I had the pleasure of being the featured guest on Melinda Emerson’s #SmallBizChat. Smallbizchat is Melinda’s weekly Twitter chat geared towards helping and educations small business owners
“Every Wednesday, Twitter users use the hashtag #Smallbizchat to follow and participate in the live interviews Emerson conducts with noted small business experts from 8-9pm ET. The expert guests type answers to questions using their Twitter accounts and hundreds of entrepreneurs join in to learn from Emerson and the guest.”
Last night that guest expert was ME!!! I spent an hour chatting the Tai Goodwin (the owner of Launch While Working) and the SmallBizChat followers about Web Design Tips for Beginners. I answered great questions like:
- What things stand out on a poorly designed site?
- How can I improve readability of the text on my website?
- How often should I back up my website and what if my host is backing it up too?
- I want to do eCommerce on my WordPress site, how can I do this?
- Are there any tips on improving my web site SEO?
….and many others. (Don’t worry if you missed you can catch the full interview HERE)
In addition, to my great night on the Twitter chat I also debuted my new eBook.
The Website Content Workbook will guide you through creating the pages you need to ensure your website makes the best impact. This is a great resource for starting a new website or evaluating the effectiveness of your current site.
Its a great read and will really help focus your website content.
For a limited time it’s available to download HERE for FREE.
Over all it was a great experience and I hope my and Small Biz Chat fans had a great time and learned from the content. And a huge THANK YOU, THANK YOU to my fans who tuned in last night. I received several messages and calls.
Let me know what you thought? Did you catch the show last night, or read the interview posted here on Melinda’s website? Did I miss any burning questions? Post them here and we can continue to chat.