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The 5 Top Takeaways From Magento Live Australia 2019

The 5 Top Takeaways From Magento Live Australia 2019

Key Takeaways from Magento Live Australia 2019Magento Live Australia has come and gone, and another year of informative information, actionable strategies, and future predictions has passed.

For Merchants, changes to Magento such as the 2.3.1 update, came with a promise of increased accessibility and improve integration. For developers, roundtables, discussions, and future developments came with both personal, professional, and business recommendations for the next twelve months in the APAC region.

Attending several of the sessions, talking with clients, meeting new faces, and – of course – experiencing another incredible Magento party, our team were on the ground gathering as much information as possible for those that couldn’t attend. Keep reading for our top five takeaways from Magento Live Australia 2019.

1. Mobile Is Incredibly Strong in the Asian Pacific Region

It’s been said time and time again, but the fact that mobile remains particularly strong in the APAC region is still a huge takeaway from Magento Live Australia. In 2018, it was predicted that more than three-quarters of B2C eCommerce sales were through mobile in the Asian Pacific. Comparatively,  In North American mobile commerce made up just 39.6% of the market.

Magento Live Australia Creating Experience Commerce Sign

For merchants, this provides valuable insight into the buyer’s journey (another key takeaway this year) and aids in the creation of commerce experiences that are increasingly frictionless and accessible. For developers, it allows for adjustments to best practices, so new and existing stores continue to meet the needs of merchants and businesses.

Undoubtedly, Magento developers in the Asian Pacific have “led the charge” with regards to mobile. Few other regions have managed to keep pace. The reasons are multitude, but the direction Magento is heading in will continue to support merchants whose most profitable channel is mobile. Most importantly, the multitude of capabilities that come with PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) will contribute enormously to a future frictionless eCommerce experience.

2. eCommerce Is Increasingly Focused on Creating Integrated Shopping Experiences

As customers, we are now more connected to the world around us than ever before. We connect through our smartphones, our computers, voice assistants, and much, much more. Each of these connections provides merchants with opportunities for integration and conversion. For merchants, it’s not just about being a purchasing option anymore, it’s about being present and accessible at the exact moment a customer recognizes and wants to fulfill a desire.

Creating integrated and social online shopping experiences with Magento

One of Magento Live Australia’s best takeaways was the emergence of truly global, ubiquitous commerce solutions. The idea that eCommerce and Magento merchants don’t just have to exist online; that they can be integrated into a customer’s offline journey to create more than just a purchase.

Increased and improved vertical technology integrations for Magento are what will make this happen. The continued evolution of the payments industry, the integration of data to inform shipping and inventory, and the inclusion of machine learning in content strategy and delivery. 

We’re looking forward to seeing how these integrations continue to grow and improve throughout the rest of 2019, and what developers will be looking for next.

3. Shipping and Logistics Is a Top Priority

How long do you usually wait for a package to arrive? How long would you have waited two years ago? How about five years ago?

Harnessing the power of the multi-source inventory

Hand-in-hand with integrated customer experiences comes expectations with regards to shipping. Digital and offline commerce have many differences, but one of the largest divides is immediacy; the ability for a consumer to get a product as soon as they’ve decided to make a purchase.

As Consumers become even more connected and as long as immediate gratification remains a core tenant of not only good customer experiences but also good commerce, shipping and logistics will continue to remain a competitive advantage for merchants. There are several different shipping and logistics providers out there, so there’s no excuse not to invest in one that will not only increase your sales, but also improve retention.

4. Magento Will Become More Accessible

The new drag & drop page builder didn’t escape anyone’s attention. As a WYSIWYG that enables instant previews and offers a powerful set of pre-defined content types, merchants will now be able to expand their development capabilities and create better, more fluid content.

Mobile and Headless commerce with Magento page builder

Particularly excited about this should be small and medium businesses who otherwise have limited access to a development team. Page creation can now be managed by fewer team members, with it being possible for scalable Magento stores to be built in a much shorter time frame.

For those looking to implement different solutions such as a PWA, the page builder can also help. The new page builder will be compatible with PWA, meaning APAC developers and merchants can more easily implement Magento solutions that appeal to their audiences and keep pace with the changing outlook for Mobile.  

5. eCommerce Will Continue to Grow in the Region

Growth of APAC Commerce Magento Live AU

One of the big APAC learns of the past few years has been that eCommerce in the region has continued to grow at an unprecedented rate. This year, the total online retail value of APAC commerce is forecast to grow from $787b to %1.2t. That number shows the true value in moving into eCommerce with a solution that truly allows for customer experiences that convert.

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Top Plugins To Improve Customer Retention On WooCommerce

Top Plugins To Improve Customer Retention On WooCommerce

Top Plugins To Improve Customer Retention On WooCommerceCustomer retention is key to building a successful and sustainable eCommerce business. Loyal customer spend more and visit more often. They are more likely to promote your store to their network. Customer retention is also less expensive than customer acquisition. Investing in customer retention and loyalty is just as important as filling the purchase funnel with new customers.

WooCommerce includes many of the features an online retailer needs to build a thriving business, but there are many WooCommerce extensions and WordPress plugins that can help you go the extra mile where customer retention is concerned.

WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin with Print Label

A generous return policy can make a big difference where customer loyalty is concerned. Online retail is inherently risky for customers: they can’t see the product until it’s delivered. The easier it is for them to make a return, the happier they are to take the risk. From the retailer’s perspective, a return is a lost sale and an added cost, but a store that offers an onerous returns experience is likely to lose the customer for good, along with any future revenue they may have contributed.

WooCommerce is well-equipped for handling returns, but an extension like WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin with Print Label, which can be used to print returns labels to include in the delivery, makes for a more pleasant returns experience.

WooCommerce Points and Rewards

Loyalty programs are a tried-and-tested customer retention strategy. By awarding points for purchases and offering discounts for points, a retailer gives customers an incentive to keep shopping. Loyalty programs influence shoppers to spend more in return for points and to return to the store to benefit from the discount they earned.

The WooCommerce Points and Rewards extension adds a configurable points system to your store. Points can be rewarded for purchases and for actions such as writing a review. The store owner decides how purchases convert into points and the maximum discounts that can be applied.

Olark Instant Chat

Rewards encourage customer loyalty, but communication is even more important. The best product page copy can leave customers uncertain about whether a product is right for them. Many sales are lost when a customer’s doubt overcomes their desire to buy. Instant chat is the most effective and efficient way to connect with customers who have questions.

With Olark, it’s straightforward to integrate instant chat into your WooCommerce pages via its official WordPress integration.

WPHelpDesk

Instant chat assuages customer doubts, but what about post-sale support? For that, a ticketing system is often the best option. Ticketing systems are built to manage and organize customer support requests. WPHelpDesk, which offers an excellent WooCommerce integration, provides a full-featured help desk with support forms that can be integrated into WooCommerce customer panels and order pages. Support requests are associated with the customer and their purchases in the ticket interface.

With these plugins and extensions, your store can offer a simple returns process, reward customers for their loyalty, and ensure that they get all the support they need before and after their purchase.

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Does WordPress Autoblogging Have A Role In 2018?

Does WordPress Autoblogging Have A Role In 2018?

Does WordPress Autoblogging Have A Role In 2018Autoblogging was once a popular way to use WordPress. Autoblogging plugins could pull in content from other websites and republish it, creating a low-cost and low-effort site that attracted search traffic and generated advertising revenue.

Today, autoblogging is less popular and is not well regarded. Spam blogs used autoblogging plugins to generate revenue from other people’s work. Content creators are, justifiably, not in favor of having their content monetized by a third party. There are still autoblogging spam sites: any moderately popular web content is likely to be scrapped and republished by dishonest site owners looking to generate a few cents. But it is no longer a viable business model.

Google cracked down on duplicate content many years ago. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it easy to have infringing copyright removed with takedown notices — providing the site’s web hosting provider follows the letter of the law.

In short, there is very little money in spam autoblogging today. It is not a strategy that any business that cares about its brand should adopt. But does that mean there is no place for autoblogging on the web in 2019?

Original Content Is The Only Way

There is no doubt that the best way to build a successful WordPress blog is to publish original, useful, and compelling content. In fact, it’s the only way to build a successful blog. However, autoblogging can be used to provide a useful aggregation service to your audience. A blog that aggregates niche content can attract a readership. In large part, that is what sites like Reddit do.

There is value in curating niche content. The reckless autoblogging — some might say theft — of the past is dead. But the same technology can be used to collate content from high-quality niche sources, publish snippets with links, and provide a centralized hub that sends traffic back to the original publisher.

Black-hat autobloggers were attracted by an opportunity to make money without doing any work — the site and a plugin did everything for them. In 2019, that is a defunct business model. Even with an autoblogging plugin, you should expect to spend time curating and filtering content — after all, that’s what will differentiate your site from the spam blogs of old.

WordPress Autoblogging Plugins

Autoblogging plugins are essentially RSS aggregators. Just like a feed reader, they periodically check RSS feeds for new content. Unlike feed readers, they publish that content to a WordPress site automatically according to criteria set by the site owner.

WPMU’s premium Autoblog plugin is one of the most popular autoblogging plugins. It was designed for the creation of news aggregation sites. Free autoblogging plugins include RebelCode’s WP RSS Aggregator and RSS Post Importer. One of the best ways to add value to your aggregator site is with a voting plugin like WPeddit, which allows readers to vote posts up and down, and can reorder posts according to their popularity.

 

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10 Ways to Attract New Customers To Your eCommerce Store

10 Ways to Attract New Customers To Your eCommerce Store

10 Critical Ways to Attract New Customers To Your eCommerce StoreSo you’ve set up your eCommerce store, you’ve found excellent products, and now you’re sitting back and enjoying the profits. Only you’re not, because no one is visiting your site. Just like with brick and mortar stores, eCommerce stores need to attract new customers in order to make a profit and maintain growth.

Luckily, attracting new customers to your eCommerce store isn’t that hard, especially if you happen to have a handy guide for how to do so.

This article covers 10 tactics for increasing the number of visitors to your site; covering on-site content, email, social media, and more.

1. Personalize Your Home page

For many new customers, your home page will be one of the first places they visit after they “enter” your store. Because of this, it’s vital that it leaves a good first impression. The best impression can be made by appealing directly to a customer’s needs.

A great example of this is Amazon, whose home page displays products based on a customer’s shopping history and relevant holidays or events. Something similar can be done on your site by implementing a machine learning extension that displays dynamic content.

Unfortunately, this requires access to information about a customer. For first-time visitors to your site, you probably won’t have information on what products they’ve looked at previously. However, this doesn’t mean you have no data.

Customers can end up on your home page through a number of different avenues. It’s possible a customer has navigated to your home page by clicking on a personalized email you sent. They could also have been directed through a specific social campaign. All of these methods provide you with data that allows you to implement a personalized shopping experience.

2. Increase Your Search Visibility

Increasing search visibility means optimizing your site’s SEO for long tail search traffic. This means optimizing content to match long tail keywords and phrases that new customers are interested in.

For example, if you’re a clothing store, you would create content that matches and answers questions asked by those interested in clothing. You would likely tailor (excuse the pun) that content to specific audiences (e.g., men’s shoes, women’s coats, etc.).

If we take bed linens as an example and perform a Google search for “How to care for your linens”, multiple vendors appear in the search results. These vendors have taken the time to increase their search visibility by appealing to long tail keywords and phrases. You can read more on this in tip #9.

Increasing search visibility does not happen overnight. As almost any respectable SEO strategist will tell you, building authority on the web is a time-consuming process; one that you’ll also likely have to invest money into. This being said, there are some simple methods for improving your site’s authority and search ranking quickly. This includes improving your site’s speed and reliability.

In a study of those who migrated to Hostdedi cloud solutions in 2018, we found that the main reason for migrating was reliability. A reliable site means faster, guaranteed load times and so a better first impression for new customers.

3. Use High-Quality Images and Product Descriptions

Images and product descriptions are the crux of an eCommerce store. The better a product looks, the more likely a new customer is to purchase it, correct?

The ability to see a product in detail and understand what exactly is being sold gives buyers a power previously reserved exclusively for brick and mortar shoppers. More than 70% of potential customers place the ability to zoom on images as one of the highest priority factors when deciding whether to make a purchase.   

If you’re a smaller store with limited available funds, we recommend investing in a cheap lightbox and learning some basic lighting skills. The ability to take photos that demonstrate your product in a positive light can do wonders for a store’s sales and ability to attract new customers. Compare the images below: which product would you be more likely to purchase?

Not only do high-quality images help you to attract new customers, but they also allow you to foster trust. According to research, customers believe that eCommerce stores that invest in better images and content are more trustworthy, and therefore are more likely to make a purchase from them.

4. Use Email Lists (Sparingly)

Well designed and delivered email campaigns are a powerful tool for attracting new buyers to your store. They offer you the chance to send new customers personalized product recommendations that leverage unique selling points. The problem is, where do you get a list of names and emails from?

There a few tried and tested techniques for gaining email lists. Techniques that appear like spam to new customers. We recommend that you start to:

  • Use sign-up forms on your site and integrate with other marketing campaigns
  • Leverage events as locations for gaining sign-ups
  • Organize a giveaway in which you collect information

What you should not do, never, ever, ever… is purchase an email list. Purchased lists are the fastest way to the spam box and never having your emails read (even by new customers with a genuine interest in your products).

Once you’ve got a list (no matter how small), it’s time to start using your emails to draw in new customers and encourage them to make a purchase. Some of the most effective email campaigns:

  • Are cart abandonment emails (40% click-through rate Hubspot)
  • Link to landing pages (23% order rate Omnisend)
  • Welcome new customers (320% revenue increase on promotional emails)
  • Include coupon codes (the reason 85% of email subscribers sign up in the first place Adestra).

Remember, too many emails and those new customers are likely to unsubscribe. 78% of consumers unsubscribe from an email list if they receive too many.

5. Run a Sales Promotion

Emails with coupon codes receive 2.5x higher transaction rates than those without. If this isn’t a reason for giving promotions a go, we don’t know what is. Yet a truly effective sale is about more than just creating and sending coupons.

When running a sales promotion, introducing limits can help to generate an air of exclusivity. If you decide to integrate social media and promotions, Facebook has a great tool that allows you to attach coupon codes and discounts to an ad, while also introducing limits.

Implementing Coupon codes on Facebook will let you set the discount amount, any details, where people can redeem the discount, and how many discounts are available. It will also let users save your coupon code and use it in the future – in case they’re still undecided on whether to make a purchase or not.

6. Implement PPC Advertising

PPC is pay-per-click advertising. It is where you pay for each click your advert receives – and so for each new potential customer to your site. For high purchase intent searches, paid advertising nets 65% of all clicks, making it one of the best techniques for attracting new customers.

The most common PPC advertising is search engine advertising, such as Google Adwords or Bing Ads. AdWords and Bing Ads let you bid on specific keywords with advertising campaigns and content you create. They also allow you to easily compare the results of these campaigns to see which performs best and which can be improved.

Many PPC experts state that good PPC campaigns are the product of continuous testing. These tests can include:

  1. Copy
  2. Images
  3. Audience
  4. Targeted keywords

It’s important to note that these attributes can change as your target audience does; in line with industry and social developments. It’s important to keep an eye on what your industry’s “atmosphere” is and then build PPC campaigns around this.

Of course, no business should base their visibility on paid advertising alone. PPC should be part of a more complex strategy that encompasses a range of different technique outlined in this article.  A properly implemented PPC advertising campaign should be based on what you’ve already found successful and help to build out further success.

7. Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other online social platforms. It’s a great way to connect with customers both through organic and paid strategies. In the last two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57%, with it estimated that roughly 75% of online users are either on Facebook or Twitter.

With such a huge user base, social media provides eCommerce stores with a perfect way to reach out to new customers and make themselves known. This can either be done through social media paid ads, or through organic posting that engages.

If you choose to predominantly use organic social media, one of the best ways to engage with audiences is through the images you choose. According to Ofcom, images were the biggest contributor to social media content success in 2017.

Of course, there is one contribution bigger than images made by a company internally: images made by customers. To make the most out of organic social media, we highly recommend getting involved in and promoting user-generated content.

8. User-Generated Content

Once you’ve taken advantage of social media and built up a loyal customer base, you can start to employ user-generated content in your marketing strategy.

…And employ it you will. The benefits of UGC start almost immediately. As we talked about previously, 92% of people lean towards trusting another person’s recommendation over content created by a brand. UGC will give your brand an edge, with data showing that customers that engage with user-generated content are  97% more likely to convert than those who don’t.

In addition to nurturing customer trust, User-Generated Content is a great way to increase the amount of content you’re capable of creating in a short time span. Some of the content types you can share include:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Blog articles

A great way to encourage user-generated content is by using branded hashtags. This allows for users on social networks to tag you in content they create. A good branded hashtag appeals to your users’ ideals and isn’t just your company name. We use #WeLiveBeyond.

9. Create a Blog

Creating a blog links to #2 in this list: increasing search visibility. It’s an integral piece of a successful content-first strategy. Blog content can provide a versatile content-core with answers to new customer questions, along with information they can’t find elsewhere.

Sole Bicycles offer an interesting take on the blog, and one that appeals specifically to their customer base. Each of their articles provides a series of pictures and information on exploring a city on two wheels. They have articles on Omaha, Seattle, Miami, Boise, New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and more.

Not only does this strategy allow them to rank on Google searches for relevant searches, it also allows for them to provide content that appeals to new customers; content that positions their product as unique and valuable.

Sole Bicycles blogging strategy also allows them to share user-generated content. This again feeds into an integrated and successful content strategy.

10. Incentivize Customer Purchases

This links to the sales promotion tip #5 above, but can be expanded to mean so much more. Think what new customers want from your site… and then give it to them. Incentivization can take on several different forms: discounts, free shipping, free gifts, and more.

These techniques allow you to draw in new customers for first-time purchases and can improve retention and customer loyalty for the future. This means that while you may be accepting a lower profit for the first item they purchase, they will go on to purchase many of your products at full price.

And you may not even have to accept a lower profit. Several surveys have shown that when free shipping is offered, customers are more likely to spend more on the same product – simply because of the incentivization.

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Beating Back Bad Bots On Your WordPress Site

Beating Back Bad Bots On Your WordPress Site

Most web traffic is generated not by humans, but by software. Last year, just over half of all web traffic was machine generated — no humans in the loop. Software web users are called bots. Bots can be divided into the good and the bad. There are more bad bots than good by a wide margin.

Good bots are useful, and even essential, to the web. Google’s crawlers are bots, and the web would be unusable without search engines. Google’s bots move through the web following links and indexing of the content of web pages. For some site owners, over-zealous search crawling causes headaches, but few would want to turn Googlebot away.

Bad bots are useful to whoever created them, but they’re harmful to everyone else, including WordPress site owners. They waste resources, they attempt to exploit vulnerabilities, they fraudulently click on ads, and they skew analytics data. If you own a WordPress site, it will almost certainly have been visited by a bad bot in the last week.

What Do Bad Bots Want?

Typically, bad bots want to exploit a resource on your site. That might be the site itself: its network connection and storage. It might be your site’s visitors; bots compromise sites to infect them with malware or to steal user data. Some bots are interested in exploiting your site’s SEO by injecting links to domains under the control of the bot owner’s clients. Others want to scrape your content for price comparison sites or plagiarism. There are even bots that buy products from a WooCommerce store to horde and sell later at a higher price, so-called sneakerbots.

But you don’t have to put up with bots. You pay for your WordPress site’s hosting resources and bad bots abuse them. They impose a cost on every site owner, and, by extension, every web user. Let’s look at some of the ways bad bots can be sent packing.

Defeating Bad Bots

You can defeat many bots with basic security precautions. If you ensure that your site is up-to-date, then bots programmed with known exploits won’t be able to compromise it. If you implement two-factor authentication, then brute-force bots that try to guess your password are out of luck.

Beyond these security best practices, a web application firewall like ModSecurity can repel many types of bot attack. ModSecurity monitors incoming requests for patterns that match most common attacks, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and brute-force attacks. It drops malicious requests and may block the attacker. WordPress sites hosted on Hostdedi have ModSecurity installed by default. We wrote in more depth about how ModSecurity protects WordPress here.

ModSecurity is an excellent WAF, but it’s not perfect. You may want to consider adding another layer of protection to deter bad bots. Blackhole for Bad Bots is a plugin that adds hidden links to your WordPress site’s pages. Ordinary visitors and good bots will ignore the hidden links. Only bad bots follow them, and, when they do, Blackhole for Bad Bots blocks them.

Bad bots are a security risk for any site on the web but with a few precautions its possible to keep them at bay, protecting your site, its data, and your users.

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Five Must-Have Tools For WordPress Theme Developers

Five Must-Have Tools For WordPress Theme Developers

The WordPress theme development scene is as vibrant as it ever has been. As WordPress and WooCommerce continue to grow in popularity, the market for themes grows too. Professional theme developers can build a business creating custom themes for clients or selling themes in the many theme marketplaces. And, even if you don’t want to become a professional theme developer, creating free themes is a great way to cut your teeth as a developer and designer.

As you might expect, the WordPress community has created tools and plugins to make development more convenient and efficient. Let’s have a look at five of the most useful.

Developers who intend to submit their themes to the official Theme Repository should learn about the theme review standards. The standards ensure that every theme in the repository is trustworthy, functional, and behaves as WordPress users expect. There are many required and recommended standards, and it’s hard to keep track of them all as you build your theme. The Theme Check plugin automates the process, running tests to automatically verify that a plugin meets the standards before it is submitted to the repository.

Debug Bar is a plugin that adds a debug menu to a WordPress site’s admin bar. The bar displays useful information about database queries and WordPress’s caches, as well as PHP warnings and notifications generated by WordPress. This data is helpful for tracking the performance of a theme during development and ensuring that it’s behaving as the developer expects.

As a developer works on a theme, they make changes their test site’s content, edit its configuration, and make customizations. The WordPress Reset plugin is a simple tool for undoing all those changes and putting the site back to its default state. Manually resetting a site is time-consuming and tedious. This simple tool lets developers flip a switch to put their site back to a known good state.

Cross-browser testing is one of the most troublesome aspects of theme development, especially for new developers who don’t have a drawer of Android devices, iPhones, and tablets to test their theme on. LambdaTest is a cloud testing automation service that opens sites on hundreds of different browsers running on cloud servers. The LambdaTest Screenshot plugin integrates LambdaTest with WordPress, enabling developers to take a screenshot of their theme running on many different browsers.

WP-CLI is a must-have for every WordPress developer. A command-line interface to most of WordPress’s functionality, WP-CLI alleviates developers of much of the drudge-work involved in setting up WordPress sites, installing themes and plugins, changing configuration settings, installing demo content, and more. As a developer, you will have to install WordPress many times, and WP-CLI makes doing so a matter of executing a quick command.

You’ll be happy to hear that Hostdedi makes WP-CLI available on all WordPress hosting accounts.

As with all development, WordPress theme development is a mixture of tedious repetition and exciting creative work. These tools will help you to build themes more quickly by automating some of the less interesting development tasks.

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What Is A Static Front Page?

What Is A Static Front Page?

WordPress Basics- What Is A Static Front PageWordPress began life as a content management system focused on blogging. In the decade and a half since, it grew into a full-fledged content management system suited to any sort of site, including business sites and eCommerce stores. But WordPress still has its blog-engine DNA, and, when first installed, is configured to publish a list of blog posts on its homepage.

WordPress users who don’t want to display a list of blog posts on the home page instead use a static homepage. A static homepage, in WordPress’ terminology, is simply a home page without the blog listing. Instead, it contains any content the site owner wants – typically widgets, images, and content about the purpose of the site or the business.

In this article, we will clarify the difference between posts and pages, and show you how to configure your WordPress site with a static front page.

WordPress Posts vs. Pages

WordPress can publish content in two different “containers”: posts and pages. Each is treated differently by the content management system.

A post is most often the familiar blog post, although it might also be used to publish videos, podcasts, images, and other content. Posts have some unique qualities.

  • They appear in the main article index of the site ordered by date of publication.
  • They have associated categories and tags.
  • Posts can be displayed as summaries.
  • You can designate sticky posts that are displayed at the top of the listing.

Pages do not appear in the article listing and do not have categories or tags. However, pages can be added to menus throughout WordPress, including the main navigation menu. Examples include the blog index page, category pages, archives, and the static home page.

The blog index page is, as the name suggests, a page that is configured to display a list of blog posts. It doesn’t have to be the homepage of your site.

Creating a static home page

The controls for creating a static homepage are in the Reading section of the admin menu’s Settings item.

WordPress Reading Menu for Front Page

By default, WordPress is configured to show your latest blog posts.

Reading Configuration for WordPress Front Page

When you select the Use a static page option, you are asked to supply which page WordPress should use for the home page and which should be used to display the blog listing.

If you have not already created pages for these, you should do so now under the Pages menu. You can choose any page to publish as your homepage, but be careful to choose one that you’re happy to have as the default page people see when they arrive on your site.

Finally, it is a good idea to add the page on which your blog index is displayed to the main navigation menu. You can do this in the Menus section of the customizer, or with the Menu item in the Appearance section of the Admin menu.

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What is Data Center Operations?

What is Data Center Operations?

What is Data Center Operations?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.

Minimizing Downtime

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.

Minimizing downtime at your data center

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.

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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.


 

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How Will WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Editor Affect My Site?

How Will WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Editor Affect My Site?

How Will WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Editor Affect My SiteWordPress 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.

This is the Gutenberg Icon

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

The types of Gutenberg Blocks

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.

Spin up a dev site to test wordpress 5

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.

Update to WordPress 5 through the admin panel example

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:

  • Content Presence
  • Content rendering
  • Loading behavior
  • Site links
  • Load times

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.

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Three Reasons To Choose ExpressionEngine For Your Next Project

Three Reasons To Choose ExpressionEngine For Your Next Project

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 also a good choice for developers looking to integrate a CMS with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript without tangling with PHP. ExpressionEngine is developer-friendly, but you don’t have to be a developer to use it. Most of ExpressionEngine’s flexible content management features can be controlled via an intuitive admin interface.

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.

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