Be it Magento, WordPress, CraftCMS, or anything in between, your application needs reliability. It is our job in Data Center Operations (DCO) to make that a reality. The DCO team works around the clock to ensure our data centers and your websites remain online.
What is Data Center Operations?
The DCO team deals with infrastructure, security, power and cooling, and management. We build out and maintain server racks, monitor building security during non-business hours, actively monitor power and cooling systems to ensure they stay online, and perform maintenance on the servers that host your website.
The Equipment We Use
In DCO, we pay close attention to the status of every piece of equipment; from the Dell PowerEdge servers powering the thousands of websites we host, to the HVAC equipment cooling the data center. We’re able to keep track of everything with the help of our monitoring systems. These systems actively watch a large array of sensors, which alert us to potential or active issues as soon as they appear. Upon receiving an alert, the DCO team immediately takes action to resolve these issues.
In our servers, we also utilize a technology known as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). RAID helps us ensure that our clients’ data remains safe and intact. RAID allows us to replace faulty hard disk and solid state drives without any noticeable impact to our clients. For the most part, our clients will never even know anything has changed with their environment following a replacement.
While many of the issues we see are simple to resolve, others require careful planning and execution to avoid major website outages. Our monitoring systems help by providing early notification of problems. In most cases, we are able to reach out to clients to schedule downtime as a result. This allows for your website to be taken offline at a time that is least impacting to you while resolving the issues that could cause bigger problems in the future.
However, downtime can sometimes strike without warning. That’s why we keep a sufficient stock of equipment on hand to complete replacements as needed, ensuring that no client is left offline for an extended period of time.
We are able to immediately act on issues thanks to our monitoring systems, but we still ensure that each server is backed up to an off-site location on a daily basis. As a wise person once said:
It is better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.
In the event our team needs to utilize these backups to restore a server to service after a catastrophic failure, we have the ability to bring a server back from the dead in a matter of hours.
Most of what we do goes unnoticed, but the DCO team plays a pivotal role in ensuring your websites remain online and stable for visitors. Without the hardware that we maintain, we would be unable to run the necessary software to ensure that your website provides the best experience possible to your visitors.
About the Authors
Nathan is a Data Center Technician with the DCO team at Hostdedi. He enjoys working with clients to help give them the right hardware needed for the best website experience possible. He also enjoys traveling and is an avid fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Alan Cutshall is a Tier 2 Data Center Operations Technician at Hostdedi. He currently attends Western Governors University in pursuit of a Bachelors of Science in Network Operations and Security. Computers have been a life-long fascination of his. Throughout his time with Hostdedi, he’s been provided with countless opportunities to deploy, configure, and troubleshoot some of the latest and greatest hardware the market has to offer. The opportunities he’s been afforded have not only furthered his fascination with computers, but also taught him things he’s been able to translate to both his studies and his hobby equipment back at home.
WordPress has changed forever, and we’d like to say those changes are for the better. For many they are, for others, they have come with a lot of uncertainty. Mainly, how will WordPress 5.0 affect your website, and is the Gutenberg editor going to cause problems?
We’re not in the business of fear-mongering, so we want to reassure you that your website is almost certainly going to be fine. However, we’re also realists, and we know that site issues can spring up out of seemingly nowhere. This is why we always recommend making changes to a dev site before making them to your production site. With WordPress 5.0 being such a radical departure from the CMS’s previous iterations, if you were ever going to test a site update, now is the time.
This article will cover what WordPress 5.0 is, what it’s going to mean for your site and you, and how to make sure that everything is working perfectly the day you go live.
What is WordPress 5 and the Gutenberg Editor?
Editing in WordPress, while relatively easy, has always had its downsides. Unique placement and sizing of page elements were awkward and for users that didn’t have advanced development knowledge, the answer was always been to install a plugin. The problem with this is that too many plugins can slow your site to a crawl and make user experience terrible.
WordPress 5 addresses this issue by providing much more “out of the box” functionality. The new Gutenberg editor offers users an interface that’s much more “you see what you get” than the classic WYSIWYG editor.
With this added functionality, some of the core features of WordPress have had to change. This has caused many site owners to ask whether WordPress 5 will break their site. We’re here to reassure you that it won’t as long as you take some simple precautions beforehand.
What’s Going to Change?
Your site itself won’t change too much with the new editor. That being said, there are going to be some changes to the way that you WordPress. Most of those changes are going to take place during editing.
You’re Going to Develop a New Workflow
It doesn’t matter how you make changes to your site, you are going to have to adjust to a new WordPress workflow.
At WordCamp US 2018, Matt Mullenweg talked about how previous versions of WordPress were not entirely compatible with Word. Copying content would often result in strange irregularities and problems in formatting. One of the goals Gutenberg has managed to achieve is the ability to copy and paste content while maintaining formatting. For WordPress users that don’t access the coding portion of the editor, this is huge.
The Editing Experience For Contributors Will Be Easier
If you have someone, or a group of people, that contribute to your blog periodically, the editing experience is going to get a lot easier for them.
The new Gutenberg editor interface is clean and easy to navigate. Functionality is quickly picked up, and how to access a certain set of features is easily applied to finding others.
Other tools that will make a new contributor’s experience easier include:
Drag and drop building through “blocks”
Preformatted “blocks” for different types of content (image, paragraph, header, etc)
Individual block formatting for placement and style
Simplified but powerful option menus
You’re Going to Use Fewer Plugins
… and this is a good thing. Too many plugins spoil the broth (or website), by increasing page load times and reducing the quality of user experience.
By offering a lot of advanced functionality through the Gutenberg editor itself, a number of features that basic users previously had to rely on plugins for are now included as standard.
The Current State of WordPress 5.0
Gutenberg has already had over 1.2 million active installs, with 86k posts being written and published daily. The fact that there are that many people already actively participating should put your mind at rest.
Of course, like any updated and changed piece of software, bugs do still exist. The main worry for many site owners and WordPress developers is how the new update will interact with plugins and themes.
WordPress 5.0, Themes, and Plugins
While many theme and plugin creators have spent time updating and ensuring compatibility with WordPress 5.0, there are still some that have not been updated – and possibly will not.
If you’re using a plugin that hasn’t been updated in several years and is still only technically compatible with WordPress 4.1, then you may have a problem. Luckily, the Gutenberg editor has added a lot of functionality to the default editing experience – potentially making your dated plugin redundant.
WordPress 5.0 and Page Builders
Another area of worry for many WordPress developers is how page builders will interact with the update. So far, we haven’t seen any issues. For the most part, because page builders are avoiding the Gutenberg editor entirely, pages created with page builders should remain stable.
Does this mean you shouldn’t test your site with 5.0 before you go live? Probably not.
How to Prepare Your Site for WordPress 5
Getting ready for the WordPress 5 update is simple… if you’re prepared.
The first step is spinning up a development environment to test how the update will affect your site. In the few cases that something is different, it’s probably not going to be sitewide, so testing each page for functionality and content is important.
If you’re hosting with Hostdedi, spinning up a dev site is simple, and can be done through your client portal. Start by going to Services -> Cloud Accounts, then find your WordPress environment in your list of services. Click the dropdown and select Add Development Account. After a short series of steps, your dev site will instantly go live, complete with its own domain.
Once you’ve spun up a test environment, you can then update WordPress through your Admin Panel. You can either select the small callout along the top or the huge callout just underneath the dashboard title.
What and How to Test
Testing your development site is similar to testing a site migration. In fact, we recommend following similar steps. This includes five primary different checks:
While you’re testing the site, you’re also going to want to keep an eye on how plugins and theme elements react to the changes. This is largely going to be covered under content presence and loading behavior. You may find that something has loaded incorrectly, or behaves in a strange way. Identifying these problems is easy. Identifying load time issues is not.
Identifying Performance Issues
It’s important during any site change, to check whether performance has taken a hit. We don’t need to reiterate how much of an effect on conversion and bounce rate a slow site can have.
Luckily, checking site speed is easy, and can be done through Lighthouse. To check site speed with Google Lighthouse, you can follow our guide to auditing WordPress site performance.
The Bottom Line: Will WordPress 5 Break My Site?
The short answer is: probably not, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Gutenberg and WordPress 5 have already been adopted by so many people, with a comparatively small number of problems, that it’s unlikely you’re going to experience issues that haven’t been created by another user at some point.
Yet as per Murphy’s law, if you give something a chance to go wrong, it probably will do. Start off on the right foot with WordPress 5.0 and spin up a dev site.
In 2002, one year before the first release of WordPress, the newly founded EllisLab launched a blogging application called pMachine Pro. pMachine was moderately popular, but it wasn’t until a few years later, with the release of ExpressionEngine, that EllisLab made its lasting mark on the world of content management. After five major releases and innumerable minor versions, ExpressionEngine remains one of the best options for complex custom websites.
After many years as a proprietary CMS, ExpressionEngine was released under an open source license in November. Now everyone can download and create a site based on one of the most sophisticated content management systems in the world.
But why choose ExpressionEngine instead of WordPress or Craft CMS? WordPress and ExpressionEngine differ in many ways, but the most important is that ExpressionEngine is designed to make it easy for developers and designers to build custom content sites. It provides features for publishing any information in any layout without imposing its ideas about how content should be organized.
ExpressionEngine is flexible
ExpressionEngine makes it easy to create and publish as many content types as necessary. It is simple to build custom post types and combine content on pages in any layout. This makes ExpressionEngine excellent as the foundation of bespoke client sites. It is as well suited to a business site as to a blog, news site, intranet, recruitment site, or any other type of website.
It takes longer to learn ExpressionEngine than WordPress because it is so flexible and it makes no assumptions about what type of data you will publish. WordPress provides a well-defined content model which fits many use-cases, but, with ExpressionEngine, the site owner makes those decisions. For a simple business site or blog, WordPress is the best choice. For a more complex site, it’s worth considering ExpressionEngine for its flexibility.
ExpressionEngine is modular
Just like WordPress, ExpressionEngine benefits from a rich ecosystem of add-ons. Devot-ee.com lists thousands of add-ons, fewer than WordPress, but covering a wide array of functionality. ExpressionEngine tends to have many features built-in rather than relying on an external add-on, including SEO and social media features. ExpressionEngine users install fewer add-ons than WordPress users, but they’re available if you need them.
ExpressionEngine is secure
ExpressionEngine includes advanced security features by default, including spam protection features such as blacklists and CAPTCHA tests, advanced session management, secure form processing, and more. Security updates have historically been released promptly, and there is no reason to expect that will change under the new open source development strategy.
In short, ExpressionEngine is a powerful, flexible, and secure tool for building custom websites of any complexity. Combined with Hostdedi’s performance-optimized ExpressionEngine hosting, ExpressionEngine the ideal choice for fast and reliable marketing and content sites.
January 22nd, 2019 – We became aware of a potential issue with clients using Authorize.net as their payment processor in Magento stores. The issue originated from an Authorize.net update which led to multiple customers being unable to complete payment for purchases.
During this time, the Hostdedi support team were actively engaged in fixing the issue for customers that reached out.
Changes made to how character data was submitted to Authorize.net systems led to payment issues arising.
The issue originated as a result of multiple-character delimiters passed via the x_delim_char field no longer being respected by the Auth.net payment gateway. Because of Authorize.net’s change, only the first character in the delimiter was being used.
Customers trying to make purchases on Magento stores that used Authorize.net were unable to complete the checkout process and were instead directed to a 500 page, with the server receiving a RESPONSE_CODE_ERROR (3).
At around 8 pm EST, Authorize.net confirmed that they were planning to revert the changes. At approximately 9:30 pm EST, clients were reporting that their payment processing system is again working.
How to Fix It
Note that as of January 23rd, 2019, Authorize.net have reverted their changes and this should no longer be required. If you have already implemented this fix, we recommend that you revert it – or ask the Hostdedi support team to revert it for you.
A quick fix offered by the Magento Community stated that the line:
Be changed in the following class (app/code/core/Mage/Paygate/Model/Authorize.netphp)
We strongly advise that you review this change with your developers. If you would prefer Hostdedi to make this change for you, the support team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Downtime is inevitable. Yet pursuing it will make your shoppers feel safe and keep them coming back to your store. Alternatively, sluggish or unavailable sites annoy customers and may even leave them thinking your site isn’t up to the task of safely handling their credit card information.
This is why site monitoring is important. It keeps Hostdedi support technicians up to date with what, if anything, needs to be done to keep your site running at peak performance.
Site Monitoring Begins With Us But Ends With You
At Hostdedi, if we manage your server, then we monitor your website for trouble. However, like most things tech-related, redundancy means reliability and so it’s worthwhile to monitor your own site. Using a variety of methods, it’s possible to monitor traffic levels, sales, speed, errors, availability, and other critical factors. The more varied your methods, the more effective your monitoring.
Our monitoring service monitors very specific services on your server, such as the status of PHP, Apache, Nginx, MySQL, and so on. In addition to service-level monitoring, we also watch the server’s memory usage, load level, and general availability. Technicians monitor these sites around the clock for stability, and will also notify you if they detect other problems specific to your site, but beyond our direct control.
An example of logs in the Hostdedi Client Portal.
On your end, third-party applications can provide many of the essentials. For example, Google Analytics can reveal your site’s ranking in search results, gauge performance, and even suggest optimizations. Free uptime checkers such as Pingdom, while prone to some false positives, can track how frequently your site is unavailable or slow to respond to queries. Most modern content management systems (CMS) provide built-in charts for tracking traffic and sales data, or have plug-ins available to do so. As with any plug-in, do your research. Not all plug-ins are created equal, and some can pose additional security risks.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
As noted above with Pingdom and other uptime checkers, false positives are a possibility. The problem of “too much site monitoring” is a very real one. Using multiple uptime checkers can give conflicting data, skew the average, and even cause downtime. If not properly configured, certain uptime checkers generate so much traffic that they impair the performance of your site.
If you plan on using such a service, settle on one and only one. If you are supplementing the built-in analytics of Magento or another CMS, consider one that tracks overall traffic or sales, as these benefit most from additional monitoring. For example, the built-in sale and data collection within Magento can be reinforced by plug-ins that either provide more detail, or track it separately and log the information in a separate database or log file. Such backups can prove invaluable if and when you have any issues with corrupt data.
Analyzing Your Data
Once your monitoring systems are up and running, organizing your data takes priority. A single instance of downtime often doesn’t supply enough information to diagnose the root cause, but an organized collection of data helps to identify patterns in frequency and duration that can lead to issue resolution. With proper site management, this data can be compared with other logged information, such as time and nature of site changes, the timing of cron jobs, and other helpful information.
We’re Here to Help
If you have any questions about how to add plugins to your site, or want more details about their functionality, please feel free to contact our support team by email or through your Client Portal. Many server and service-level functions are configured by default when signing up for our service, but we can give guidance on services you may want to use for your own monitoring purposes.
Troy Evans has been a support technician at Hostdedi for just over 5 years, and has been helping to improve and refine the monitoring procedures and services.
The goal of every Magento store is to increase online sales, and almost every day, a new strategy for doing so seems to pop up. But keeping up to date with the latest and greatest can be an impossible task, especially when you’re confronted by the enormous number of options available and need to prioritize which are the most important.
To help you get the most out of your Magento store, we’ve put together a list of the 17 best strategies for increasing sales quickly and efficiently. We’ve found that these techniques are the most effective amongst those we have tried.
1. Optimize Your Buyer’s Journey
Before you can hope to increase Magento eCommerce sales, you need to understand what actions your customers are performing and when. This is what’s called the buyer’s journey.
The buyer’s journey is represented in several different ways on paper. For the sake of simplicity, when we refer to the buyer’s journey here, we are referring to the sales funnel.
The sales funnel has three primary levels, each of which addresses a different set of thought processes.
Awareness – Buyer is aware of a need for a product or service
Consideration – Buyer researches competing products or services to find the right fit
Decision – Buyer makes a purchasing decision
There are several different ways to optimize this process so a buyer can move from awareness to decision swiftly. The real trick to optimizing a sales funnel is to isolate what channels are the most profitable for your Magento store, and then build on these to create as clear a pathway to checkout as possible.
2. Optimize Your eCommerce Hosting
A simple way to increase sales is to improve your eCommerce store’s hosting performance. Numerous studies have shown that even a 1-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% decrease in sales. The faster your store loads, the more sales you will make.
Your store may be slow due to not being optimized, being overloaded, or because you’re hosting with an unsuitable provider. Regardless of the reason, to improve your site’s speed, you’re going to have to make some changes.
Before making those changes, it’s a good idea to benchmark your site’s performance. Google Lighthouse is a great way to start and can easily be implemented through your Chrome browser without having to download anything. There are also several websites that allow you to check site speed manually.
With Google’s increased emphasis on user experience, the time it takes for customers to see and interact with your site is the most important. Many providers emphasize their TTFB load speeds, when this number isn’t a good metric for estimating sales performance. The most important metric is time to interactivity or time to full page load.
3. Take Control of Your eCommerce Environment
When we say take control of your eCommerce environment, we mean being able to make changes to the resources you have access to. This usually means you should avoid SaaS platforms. SaaS platforms, while great for getting started, lack the customization capabilities many hosting environments provide.
You don’t need to be a developer to take full control of your application environment. Many managed hosting providers will help you unlock the true potential of your eCommerce store with auto-installs and help getting your application off the ground.
A good eCommerce environment allows you to increase page load speeds, optimize environment settings, and implement custom tools for advanced functionality.
4. Go Content First
The best way to attract new customers and draw them into your sales funnel is by luring them with great content.
Great content at the top of your funnel means that potential customers will find your brand while researching for the right product or service. From here, you won’t only be a vendor, you’ll also be an authority – one they’re more likely to purchase from.
Long tail keywords are key to a true content first Magento strategy. The best way to get started is with tools like MOZ and Google Trends. Find content opportunities and fill them.
5. Improve Personalized Experiences
Personalization has long been at the center of great marketing campaigns, so there’s no excuse not to provide it in 2019.
With the introduction of AI and machine learning services, and Magento’s already incredible internal functionality, creating campaigns that appeal to multiple users should be easier now than ever before.
Moreover, improved personalized experiences are an important part of optimizing your buyer’s journey. A buyer is more likely to make a purchase and remain loyal to a store when their name or attributes are mentioned and appealed to.
6. Create Abandoned Cart Emails
10% of customers that receive abandoned cart emails will make a purchase. The potential power in reminding customers of what they left behind, even if it isn’t the same in every industry, is incredible.
Abandoned cart emails are one of the most effective ways to increase Magento sales; especially if you haven’t been sending them already. Implementing them can be tricky, but extensions like Recapture’s Abandoned Cart Recapture or Magewares’ premium Abandoned Cart Email can help you to get started quickly.
7. Reduce Abandoned Carts
Do you know what’s better than sending abandoned cart emails? Not having to send them at all.
Understanding why potential customers are abandoning their shopping cart is the first step to avoiding it. Looking at the main reasons behind cart abandonment reveals some clear trends.
According to Baymard, the top reason for cart abandonment is unexpected shipping costs, followed by having to create a new user account, and a checkout process that is too complicated. These are all issues that can easily be resolved through minor tweaks.
A great way to improve the second two points is by integrating social logins. This can be done by installing an extension and will, in most cases, provide customers with increased peace of mind over your store’s reliability and trustworthiness.
8. Upsell and Cross-Sell Products
We’ve all heard “would you like fries with that” when we order fast food. It’s a great example of upselling and one that can help you increase Magento store sales.
Upselling is when you provide a customer with additional options for purchase. If you sell shoes, for instance, you may also try to upsell them on a shoe protection and maintenance kit, thereby increasing the life of the shoes and keeping them in the best shape possible.
A good upsell requires two primary elements to be there, otherwise, it can fall on deaf ears.
Upsells should be related to the original product
Upsells should not increase the price of the original product by too much
If you’re already selling an expensive product, customers may be eager to buy into a warranty or protection program. recommendations like these often appeal to a buyer’s journey to find value for their money and make the best purchase possible.
9. Bundle Products
You decided to have fries with your fast food order. You probably got a drink as well, and all for less money than it would have cost you to order each individually. This is bundling, and it’s an incredibly effective way to increase sales.
Not only does bundling help you to upsell more products, but, if done correctly, it can position you as a knowledgable vendor with a clear idea of what is important to customers.
In the example above regarding a shoe repair kit, you can do more than recommend the kit. By increasing the purchase price of the shoes and including it, you’re able to provide both at a lower combined cost. Customers will feel they are getting great value for money and be less inclined to purchase from a competitor.
Again, bundling products needs to be done strategically and bundled items should be relevant to one another. Savings are an important part of bundling, so analyze what items you are able to reduce prices on. Potentially run a test to see if bundles or the single items perform better.
10. Integrate Social Media
Integrating social media into your sales funnel can be a great way to increase your Magento sales. Social posting, social ads, and interaction with potential customers are great ways to increase awareness, reposition your products, and retarget potential customers.
Integrating social channels doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. Integrate social channels with your blog for auto posting and use a social media tool to auto-alert you to brand mentions. For Twitter, Tweetdeck is a great, free tool with a good level of customization.
For social ads, run multiple tests to see what content performs best and work on narrowing down the right audience. The longer you work on it, the better your content will perform and the more customers you’ll start to see hitting your funnel.
11. Go Responsive
Mobile now counts for over 50% of all eCommerce traffic, and it’s not surprising considering the number of people equipped with smartphones and other mobile devices.
in 2019, responsiveness is not something that should need to be mentioned. However, if you haven’t got a mobile-friendly store already, it is a surefire way of increasing Magento conversions. Moreover, there are several great guides and themes available to help store owners make their Magento store responsive quickly.
12. Improve the User Experience (UX)
Good UX makes a buyer’s journey as intuitive and simple as possible. In eCommerce, UX should not aim to recreate the wheel, but adopt the wheel that already exists. There are several primary aspects that eCommerce design should follow, including:
Simplicity of navigation
Ability to leave and check product feedback
Easy access to contact information
Design that supports, not overshadows
From the perspective of a business, these elements require a clear audience definition and the identification of that audience’s expectations. A tech-orientated audience is going to have a different set of assumptions regarding how an e-commerce site is meant to look and feel, compared with an audience looking for flowers.
13. Embrace User-Generated Content
Imagine being able to improve your content-first marketing tactics without having to hire a writer or strategist? It’s time to look at user-generated content.
Leveraging customer images and reviews can provide you with great advertisements, but it also does something much more important: create advocates.
As soon as a customer shares positive content about your products, they become an advocate. They are a real person sharing real feelings about their purchase. This authenticity can go a long way toward pushing a buyer that is otherwise on the fence towards making a purchase.
User-generated content provides authentic, easily-digestible content, and gives your Magento store the edge you need to increase sales.
14. Run an SEO Audit
On average, 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search. That means that potentially 51% of your traffic and potential customers come as a result of your SEO efforts.
If you’re new to SEO, then blogging regularly can help you to improve your SEO rank quickly. Create fresh and helpful content that appeals to what buyers are looking for. We recommend getting started with tools like Google Trends and then going from there.
15. Update Local SEO
SEO is more multifaceted than you may believe – this is especially true if you’re running an omnichannel Magento store and want to encourage online visitors to visit your brick and mortar location.
Local SEO is a great way to increase your business visibility for free. Start by heading to Google My Business and make sure that your business’s information has all been configured correctly. You can provide your customers with important information including your:
Well configured local SEO can increase your store’s visibility on Google and allow even more customers to find your store during the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey.
16. Listen to Customer Feedback
Getting feedback from customers is an important part of knowing how to improve your store’s eCommerce experience. Buyers are often more than happy to give you feedback, especially if they’re not impressed by something. You can enable feedback in a number of ways. Each of which has its own unique advantages.
Surveys are the easiest and quickest to implement. There are a number of free survey sites available, or you can invest in a cloud service such as SurveyMonkey. We find that surveys often need something to motivate customers to engage. This can be a discount code, a voucher, or something else.
Social media is also a great way to elicit feedback. Moreover, by combining feedback with your social media efforts, you’re able to engage with customers online and position your brand as one that cares.
However you decide to collect feedback, the information you receive will be invaluable.
17. Take Part in Holiday Sales
Online sales for Black Friday in 2017 were 26% higher than they were in 2016. In 2018, they increased again. If we’re not being clear: holiday periods can net you a significant increase in sales if you’re suitably prepared.
There are several ways to prepare for holiday sales. Many of them include retargeting potential customers. The reason for this is that during a holiday sales period, buyers are often looking for the best deals available. This involves a much longer consideration stage, with many different merchants competing for a buyer’s decision.
As a merchant, it’s your job to make sure that your products remain at the forefront of your buyer’s mind. Retargeting campaigns through PPC ads and abandoned cart recapture can help to keep you there.
How to Increase Magento Sales the Easy Way
The tips above should help you to make serious headway when it comes to increasing sales. However, it’s important to know that this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are numerous techniques and strategies at a merchant’s disposal. We have included those we have found to be most valuable yet for many merchants, techniques not listed here may make the biggest difference.
We highly recommend checking what other eCommerce stores are doing right and aligning your optimizations around what already works. Again, being a successful eCommerce business is not about reinventing the wheel, following the patterns and expectations that already exist.
PHP 5.6 is the most widely used minor version of a programming language on the web. The PHP language is used on 79% of websites where the server-side language is known. PHP 5 is used on 58% of the web, and PHP 5.6 is used on around a quarter of all websites. It would not be an exaggeration to say there are millions of websites running PHP 5.6 — and also millions using older versions of PHP.
The statistics for WordPress are in the same ballpark: 35% of WordPress sites run on PHP 5.6. For a four-year-old piece of software, PHP 5.6 remains remarkably successful. It is also unsupported, receiving neither bug fixes nor security updates.
By the end of December 2018, PHP 5.6 hadn’t been actively supported for two years, during which time it received no bug-fix releases. Its official end of life was reached as 2018 came to a close, and, going forward, it will no longer be updated for critical security issues either.
PHP 5.6 and WordPress
WordPress recommends that hosting providers support PHP 7.3, which is the most recent version. At the time of writing, modern versions of WordPress will run on much older PHP versions, back to PHP 5.2.4, but, as WordPress’ developers make clear, using an older version may expose your site to security vulnerabilities. When WordPress 5.1 is released later this year, PHP 5.6 will become the minimum supported version, and sites using older versions may begin to experience compatibility problems. There are tentative plans to make PHP 7 the minimum supported version as early as the end of 2019, but given the huge install base for WordPress on PHP 5.6, it’s uncertain that this will actually happen.
Your site will continue to work. Although PHP 5.6 is no longer supported, WordPress sites that use it will continue to work for the foreseeable future. WordPress’ developers prefer site owners to use up-to-date versions, but they ensure that WordPress is compatible with older versions. However, it’s not guaranteed that WordPress will remain compatible with older versions forever or that developers will continue to support old versions for as long as they have.
Using older versions is a security risk. If a critical vulnerability is discovered in PHP 5.6, it won’t be fixed. It’s impossible to say how much of a risk this poses because no one knows if there are any critical security vulnerabilities in PHP 5.6. Over the last couple of years, numerous denial of service vulnerabilities were discovered and patched in PHP 5.6, but few critical remote code execution or privilege escalation vulnerabilities. After four years, the risk of show-stopping vulnerabilities is not high, but it is not zero.
New WordPress sites should use supported versions of PHP. There is no good reason to launch a new WordPress site on an unsupported version of PHP. Hosting providers that use outdated versions for new sites are negligent, knowingly put their clients at risk. Responsible hosting providers regularly upgrade PHP across their hosting platforms. Hostdedi offers the most recent supported version for new WordPress hosting accounts, although we continue to support older versions for clients who need them.
In summary, while there is no need to panic, hosting clients with sites based on PHP 5.6 should consider upgrading to a more recent version because there is a non-negligible security risk when using older versions of PHP.
WordPress has a fairly simple interface, but there is a lot happening beneath the surface that you don’t see. Every page load and configuration change may trigger dozens of functions which, in turn, may trigger dozens more. Most of the time, the activity is hidden and that’s a good thing: you don’t need to know everything your WordPress site does behind the scenes.
But sometimes it’s useful to move the curtain aside and see what’s really happening. WordPress can communicate with you in various ways: it can send you emails, it can display notifications, but today we’re going to look at logs.
A log is a list of events, usually displayed in the order in which they occurred. Logs often include errors, but they might also include the day-to-day activities of your site.
Logs are useful for figuring out what is happening when it isn’t obvious from the interface. For example, you might install and configure a plugin so that a widget is displayed on the home page. If the widget doesn’t appear, you can look at log files for clues about what went wrong.
To turn on the error log, look for code that says:
define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );
Change it to the following:
define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );
This turns on debugging, but you also need to add another line so that WordPress sends errors to a log:
Make sure that there is only one occurrence of the WP_DEBUG and WP_DEBUG_LOG definitions in wp-config.php.
Now, if you look in your WordPress installation’s /wp-content directory, you will find a file called debug.log that contains errors and other useful information. As you carry out actions on your site, any errors generated by the site’s code are added to the log.
When you have finished using the log, it’s a good idea to turn off log generation by returning wp-config.php to its default state.
An easier option
If editing the wp-config.php file manually and viewing logs over Filezilla doesn’t sound like fun, you can use a plugin to toggle logging and view the log. WP Log Viewer allows you to turn logging on and off, and provides useful tools for downloading and viewing the error log.
The error log doesn’t tell you everything that happens on your site. If you’re interested in logging comprehensive information about what your site is doing and what users are doing on your site, you need a plugin such as WP Security Audit Log.
WP Security Audit Log logs a huge range of information, including changes to posts and pages, user accounts, settings, the database, and more.
Magento is a mature and feature-rich eCommerce application. It has everything a retailer needs to build an online store. But Magento, as richly endowed as it is, can’t be all things to all retailers. That’s why the Magento Marketplace and Magento extensions exist. They give developers the opportunity to put their own spin on essential eCommerce features.
In this article, we’re going to look at five of the best Magento extensions for increasing sales. We’re interpreting “increase sales” broadly, and will suggest extensions that will help you to bring new customers to your store, improve the shopping experience, and win back customers who leave without making a purchase.
Loyalty programs that offer discounts to loyal shoppers are an effective way of increasing sales and making sure that shoppers come back for more.
Loyalty Program from Amasty provides a huge range of functionality focused on building flexible discount reward schemes. The extension allows Magento retailers to create rewards based on a variety of attributes, including cart contents, purchase history, and more. There are many loyalty program extensions for Magento, but I’ve chosen to highlight this one because of its flexibility: Loyalty Program offers over 16 discount actions and intelligent discounting rules that cover almost everything a retailer might want to offer shoppers.
Research has shown that around 70% of carts are abandoned. Shoppers put products in the carts, but fail to complete the checkout process. Shoppers abandon carts for many reasons, but some can be won back with a well-timed email and the offer of a discount.
Abandoned Cart Email provides highly configurable email reminders with personalization features such as email templates customized for specific customer groups. The extension can also automatically generate coupon codes based on flexible rules chosen by the retailer.
Uncertainty is the enemy of eCommerce retailers. Online retail has many advantages that brick-and-mortar does not, but it suffers from some limitations where direct interaction is concerned. The answer to a question or concern can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Instant chat embedded on the site and staffed by a knowledgeable support team helps shoppers to get the answers they need to make a decision.
ZenDesk Chat provides Magento integration to the popular ZenDesk real-time chat service, allowing support staff to respond instantly to queries.
A significant proportion of shoppers arrive at eCommerce stores via a search engine. Magento is well-equipped to support excellent search engine optimization, but the SEO Ultimate Suite makes it easier to implement SEO best practices such as adding metadata to product and category pages, internal cross-linking, duplicate content resolution, and rich snippets.
Algolia Instant Search upgrades Magento’s built-in search capabilities with features shoppers are familiar with from search engines like Google. Algolia’s features include instant search results as the user types, autocomplete, search suggestions, and synonym matching.
I’ve tried to include the best of each category of extension in this article, but there are many that provide similar functionality. If my suggestions don’t fit your needs, be sure to browse the Magento Marketplace for more ideas.
In 2017, global online crime generated $1.5 trillion. To put that statistic in context, global eCommerce sales in 2016 totaled around $1.8 trillion. Both of those figures can be challenged and neither is likely to be entirely accurate, but it is clear that online crime is a huge, sophisticated, and professional industry. Much of that industry’s attention is focused on eCommerce retailers.
Anyone who runs an online retail store will find themselves a target sooner or later. By some estimates, 90% of login attempts to eCommerce stores are fraudulent. According to a recent study, about half of all website visitors are bots and around a third are there to attack your site. ThreatMetrix reported a billion bot attacks and 210 million attempted fraud attacks in the first quarter of this year.
But what do criminals gain from their focus on eCommerce stores? In reality, it’s much the same as they get from any site – resources, data, and traffic – but the specifics of eCommerce mean that online stores have a richer vein of those assets to mine.
Online retail stores have access to a lot of data about their customers. That includes names, addresses, and other data that can be used for identity theft.
Of course, the most valuable data is credit card numbers, and those are not often stored in eCommerce databases. One of the reasons retailers use payment processors is so that they don’t have to deal with the burdensome standards and risks associated with credit card data.
But, if an attacker can compromise a site and inject code of their own, sensitive data can be transmitted to a server under their control. This is called credit card skimming. We have recently seen a massive series of skimming campaigns against Magento and other eCommerce stores.
Traffic is valuable
Retailers spend a lot of money on marketing to bring people to their store. That traffic is a valuable resource that a criminal would otherwise have to generate themselves. We’ve already discussed credit card skimming, but criminals also want access to traffic so that they can redirect visitors to phishing websites, malware websites, spam pages, and a variety of other malicious content.
Server resources and bandwidth
No legitimate hosting provider wants to sell bandwidth and server resources to criminals, so they have to get them elsewhere. eCommerce stores are often hosted on high-end servers with a decent chunk of low-latency bandwidth at their disposal. That makes them a good target for spammers and botnet operators who need the bandwidth.
Another resource criminals are interested in is less tangible: your reputation. This can be exploited in a number of ways. For instance, SEO spammers embed links to malicious sites they want to boost in search engine results. It’s your reputation that causes shoppers to entrust their data to you in the first place. And it’s your reputation that will be destroyed if your store leaks sensitive data, hosts credit card skimmers, or infects shoppers with ransomware.
Combating Online Crime
Online security for eCommerce stores is a complex topic, but there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your store will be victimized.
Update your store and its extensions regularly. The importance of this is hard to overstate. Out-of-date stores are vulnerable.
Make sure all plugins and extensions are downloaded from reputable sources.
Use two-factor authentication. This will help prevent successful brute-force attacks.
Choose your hosting wisely. If you don’t choose a competent hosting provider that cares about security, there’s little you can do to ensure that your store stays safe.
There is no silver bullet for eCommerce security, but these four simple tips will keep your store safe from opportunistic attacks by criminals in search of weaker sites to exploit.