Plugins We Like: WooCommerce

E Commerce is the transaction of money made through the Internet. Having a reliable way to make such transactions is crucial especially when your entire business depends on it. This is why WooCommerce is our go-to ecommerce plugin.

WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin created to allow you to sell absolutely anything, from physical object to digital tools. It is also one of the most used for online stores on WordPress, which could be because of the full control WooCommerce provides to both store owners and web developers. With this plug in you get control of the following:

-Discounts

-Bookings (for restaurants, hotels, etc.)

– Memberships and subscriptions

-Shipping Rate

-Shipping locations

-Transaction type

-Shipping company

…. AND MORE!

We asked our designers and developers Stacey, Clair and Azizul what their opinions are on WooCommerce and why it is our most favorable ecommerce plugin. According to their experiences, they have found WooCommerce to be highly customizable and easy to manage items. They also agreed it is very user friendly for clients with multiple built-in payment options and easy checkout process. They did point out, however, that there are many premium plugins that require payment so, not all the customization options are free. Another important fact to note is that this interface is most useful for small to medium ecommerce businesses. If you are a small, startup retail business owner, WooCommerce would be the best option for you.

Keeping WordPress Secure

A new year gives you a great start to take the best measures to boost up your security. Even WordPress pros can often forget that staying on top of the simple things can lead you to a successful and safe site. Here are a few tips to keep you and your WordPress in the right direction, secured and away from being vulnerable from any sort of attack.

 

Change your password (often) and don’t use common usernames.

It is highly important to always make sure your password is being changed often and that it is fitted for security. Random strings of numbers and letters are the best way to keep your password safe from hackers. You can even use password generators such as Norton Password Generator to give you a top-notch one.

Shy away from using ‘admin’ or anything simple when creating your username for WordPress. If that’s the case, you may change it by adding /wp-login.php or /wp-admin/ at the end of your domain name.

Another great way to keep your security measure boosted is through two-step authentication. Two-step authentication (2FA) means a password is required along with an authorization code that is sent to either your phone or email, in order to get through the site. Owners decide what those two can be, whether a regular password followed with a secret question, a code or set of specific characters.

 

SSL to encrypt data

SSL, Secure Socket Layer, ensures security to data transfer between user browsers and the server, which makes it difficult for hackers to breach the connection or access your information.

For WordPress, you are able to purchase one from dedicated companies or ask your hosting firm to provide you one, often found in their hosting packages.

A bonus to using SSL, is Google ranks sites with SSL higher than those who don’t have it. In other words, more traffic for your website.

 

Securing themes and plugins

WordPress is updated frequently. Updates that are made for the purpose of fixing bugs, as well as updating vital security patches. In doing so, can cause some serious harm that you want to avoid at all cost.

In other words, update plugins, themes, everything. Regularly.

However, if you do want to use the built-in plugin and theme editor in the dashboard, you’re better off disabling it. Authorized users are given access to this editor, and, if by any chance the account is hacked, the same editor can be used to take down the entire site just by modifying the code.

5 Ways to Improve Your Website this New Year

A new year brings new resolutions, new improvements and new opportunities for growth. We’re sure you have a list of your own personal resolutions lined up and today, we are here to help you achieve your website resolutions and improvements for your companies sites. Follow along to learn about 5 different ways to improve your website and gain more viewers.

 

  1. Be obvious about website navigation.

Website navigations helps visitors find what they are looking for first, and increase search engine ranking second. Therefore, use keywords that would be obvious for your visitors; this may mean no internal lingo. Remember that the less clicks visitors have to go through to find what they are looking for, the better.  

 

  1. Add a CTA throughout your website.

After providing your visitors with all the information they are looking for, give them a sense of direction so they know what they can do next with the information provided. Remember that each call to action (CTA) should begin with a verb and should be set apart from the rest of information. For example, a yellow button that says “Add to Cart.”

 

  1. Add internal links throughout your website.

Internal links are not only great for SEO but they are also great for keeping your visitors browsing through your website for a longer time. Internal links can be used to direct visitors to pages with further, more detailed, information about a particular service or product mentioned in a different page.

 

  1. Avoid using carousels.

Statistics show that internet users don’t even get to the fifth slide in a carousel. If you insist on having one in your website, minimize the amount of slides to three. Otherwise, use alternative to carousels such as changing your layout to a Hero layout, highlighting your major services or products on the homepage and direct them to its page, or providing a video that highlights top services or products.

 

  1. Lose the testimonial page.

The truth is that visitors don’t go to your website looking for such page. The best way to highlight positive reviews about your company is by incorporating quotes or highlights throughout your website in different pages, such as the product page, about page, contact page, etc.

 

Plugins We Like: WP Job Manager

In the past we have made a post on reasons why your company should consider posting job opportunities on your website. We have mentioned benefits like saving money, easy sharing, grabbing web surfers’ attention, and more (visit the blog here). Well, today we are highlighting our favorite job listing plugin, WP Job Manager. Not only does this allow you to post job opportunities directly onto your site, but it also allows you to manage those job listings. This job manager has many features that make the plugin one of our favorites.  

An important thing to point out about the WP Job Manager plugin is that it is very simple to set up and works well with many themes. One of the plugin’s best features is that it allows fully managing, categorizing, and adding as many job listing as available. When submitting the listing, it allows you to preview it first. You are also able to link each listing to either an email or website address to allow job seekers to easily apply. Job seekers can also be alerted whenever a new job matching is available through RSS links.

We asked two of our designers, Phil and Jose, for some insight on the WP Job Manager plugin and how they felt about it. Even though this is a great job management plugin, they both agreed on one flaw: it is difficult to customize. According to Phil and Jose, once the plugin has been added, it easily grasps the theme of most templates but it can be difficult to adjust it to customized websites. However, they both agree that once it is implemented, it handles data well and does a great job at managing an unlimited amount of job listing and applications.  

Plugins We Like: Events Calendar by Modern Tribe

The latest version of the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is Sperling Interactive’s go-to calendar plugin for our clients’ website. When researching the features of this calendar you may find a lot of great aspects including: its saved venues and organizers, its inclusion of Google map, the list of upcoming events, the option to export events into Google Calendar and iCal, its responsiveness from mobile devices to desktop, and its availability to internationalize and translate the descriptions.

Of course, when researching anything you may come across many positive and negative reviews, so I decided to ask one of our developers, Andrew, what he thought about the plugin to get more information.

When I asked Andrew how he felt about it, he said it was the best calendar plugin out of the other free options. He also said that aside from reviews claiming that it is a highly customizable option, it isn’t as customizable as one would think. “It works well as a template and it’s customizable in the way you view the events and the different templates options,” he said, “but making small changes to the templates can be a difficult.” According to Andrew, in order to make changes to those templates many other plugins need to be incorporated.

When I asked Andrew what were some things he liked about the events calendar he mentioned how once the plugin is installed it immediately incorporates the existing theme or color of the website. He also likes how the pieces to customize the calendar are all there, even though “getting them to where you need them takes more work.”

Overall, Andrew said he would recommend this calendar plugin to others because “for a free plugin it’s extensive” but to “be weary that needing super extensive things might be a little more challenging.”

A/B Testing

 

A/B Testing, also known as Split Testing and Bucket Testing, is a way of comparing two different versions of anything from websites to an app. According to Mike Sperling, the way it works is by showing versions A and B to a percentage of your consumers and test the outcome or response rate of each one. With that, the one that has the best response rate would be the one you send out to the rest of your consumers.

 

To get into more details on how to perform an A/B testing is by taking it as a scientific experiment:

  1. Start with a question, or the purpose for doing the experiment.
  2. Research consumers’ behaviors through analytics or past experiments.
  3. Make a hypothesis, or statement on the outcome of the experiment.
  4. Figure out the percentage of people you would like to perform the testing on and the length of the experiment.
  5. Perform the A/B Test where A would be the controlled substance and B is the variation.
  6. Analyze the study and conclude which form would be best to go with.

A/B testing is a perfect experiment to perform especially when making changes that could significantly increase leads, sales and revenue. These experiments are great overall because they help construct hypothesis and help get a better understanding of what experiences impact your consumers. If done consistently, it can even help gradually improve your site or marketing items.

 

This kind of testing can be done on anything, really:

-Headlines

-Sub headlines

-Paragraph Text

-Social Proof

-Testimonials

-Call to action

-Links

-Media Mentions

-Images

– Awards and badges

-Content near a fold

Color Combinations We Like

When it comes to web, print or, really, any design, color combinations play a crucial role in the designs appearance. Because of this, it is important to keep the basic rules of color combining in mind when creating a new design.

When deciding on a combination, you want to incorporate a variety of colors so that the design comes to life. At the same time, you don’t want to have too large of a variety since it could make it difficult for the audience to follow the design. In general, you want to have at least 3 main colors in your design:

  1. The Primary Color, which makes up about 60 percent of the design.
  2. The Secondary Color used to back up the primary color should make up about 30 percent of the design.
  3. The Highlight Color used to emphasize parts of the design should make up about 10 percent of the design.

 

Deciding on the right combination requires keeping in mind the basic rule of complimentary colors. These are colors opposite to from one another in the color wheel. In other words, cool colors with warm colors. Using a variety of shades of a specific color can also be helpful when deciding on a combination.

In general, the combinations are usually decided on depending on what kind of business the design is being created for. In this case, you would have to take into consideration what pictures you would need to incorporate, what colors are associated with the brand of the business, and what kind of influence is the business to make in the audience.

We decided to ask our Sperling Interactive team of designers what their favorite color combinations are. The following are their answers:

Andrew: A combination of light grays, blue, and white is Andrew’s favorite because it gives a clean and sleek appearance to the design, and simply looks good all together.

Jose: A simple red, blue and green is Jose’s favorite combination. These colors are highly influenced by the Dominican Republic’s flag and, also, by the fact that these colors can create a variety of other colors.

Julia: Recently, Julia has been enjoying white or subtle colors with a brighter accent color, like cream, white and a bright mint green. She feels it creates a modern and clean feel.

Holmes: One of Holmes’ favorite color combinations is light blue, gray and white with yellow highlights because enjoys the clean color the cool tones create. Another favorite is orange and yellow because these demand attention and are challenging colors to work with.

Rose: A combination of purple and green tones with some grays and white is Rose’s favorite because it brings color balance while still being lively.

Stacey: Bright floral color combination is what she enjoys the most along with shades of blue and gold. She says that, even though those are Michigan colors, the combination is a reliable contrasting one.

Current Web Design Trends

As time goes on and changes are being made in the world, so are there changes being made in web designing trends. There are many trends that have been developed in the past years, and today we are going to tell you about those trends you should consider when redesigning or creating a new website.

New UI patterns:

Obvious trends among websites are the new user interface (UI) patterns that include:

Hamburger Menu

This menu is recognizable to the majority of users, which makes navigating through the site much more simple and easier.
Example: National Geographic Channel National Geographic

 

 

 

Long Scrolls

The days of carrying all your content on the top of the page are no longer here. Thanks to smart phones, people have been accustomed to the long scrolls in websites. This trend usually includes clear breaks through the sections to create a “multipage” feel.
Example: Our Home Page

Card Sections

This trend has been developed from the Pinterest website where there are many “cards” with different content information. This helps users get the company’s information in small chunks while also giving them the possibility of clicking on them to get more information if needed.
Example: Topsfieldfair.org

Hero Images

There is no question about it; humans are easily attracted to visuals. By having a hero image as the home setting for your website can help grab users’ attention.
Example: Prada Website

 

Interactive Animation:

Another noticeable trend are small animations being incorporated throughout websites along with a large focus on interactive content.

Animation

Large and small scale animations are incorporated to create a more personal touch to the sites as well as making them more interactive thought hover tools, loading bars, pop-up notifications and more.
Example: AGildedNest.com

Interactions

Other ways websites can be more interactive is when slides are incorporated into the site. This creates a more physical interaction especially when it is full screen slide.
Example: ChelseaJewish.org

 

Responsive Design:

This design allows websites to be accessed from various devices without having to zoom in/out because the site is being shown just as it is.
Example:

responsive design

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flat Design:

Although this is an old trend that’s existed for many years, when new trends are incorporated into this design, it can create a fresh and engaging look.

Shadows

Adding long shadows onto certain materials can create movement and depth onto flat designs.

Bold & Bright Colors

A great color scheme can keep this design more interesting and pleasing to the human eye.

Typography

Using bold typefaces can make a flat design more even more pleasing to the eye, especially with a great color scheme.

Importance of Wireframing

Wireframing is essentially a blue print that represents the framework of a website in black and white. It shows the layout of what a website will look like and how the web user will navigate through the site. As time goes on, many believe that wireframing is not of importance in the web designing steps anymore but today we’re here to tell you all the reasons why wireframing should still be practiced.

Focus on the important:
By wireframing a website before jumping into creating/redesigning one can help keep the focus on the important elements of the website first, like determining how users would navigate though the site and how to simplify the navigation process for them.

Allows changes before designing:
Wireframing allows you to explore different options for your site ahead of time before jumping into creating the site and having to go through major changes later. You would be able to determine the features you would like to add to the site and where.

Prevents future conflicts:
When working with clients, creating a wireframe can help you and the client stay on the same page when it comes to the website’s design. By doing this, you could save a lot of time and conflicting issues in the long run.

Plan out best way to deliver service:
Going back to the navigation part of the website’s design, by planning out an effective navigation strategy ahead of time, users would be able to fully utilize the website the way you wish them to. You could share with them everything you think is important and relevant.

Wireframing may seem like a long and tedious process, but if done correctly, it could save you a lot of time in the long run when creating the website you, or your clients desire.

Web Marketer Inside Tips: Rosemarie Calder

The internet has become an integral part of everyone’s lives including staying organized, being social and, of course, online consumerism.  With 3 billion people globally using the internet as of November 2015, it would be a mistake not to have your company’s name and brand out there in the cyber world.  That is where Web Marketers come in to play. Web marketing takes many forms and has seen a major shift from the traditional print and television marketing of the not-so-distant-past.  Social Media, Re-targeting, SEO, and online advertising are just a few of the outlets that these professionals can use to raise brand awareness and target the best audience for the product or service your business provides.  At Sperling Interactive, one of our talented Web Marketers is Rosemarie Calder.  Let’s take a few minutes to get to know one of our talented marketers and find out some of her insider tips and advice.

Meet Rosemarie Calder

While Rosemarie would describe herself as quiet and mindful, she is a force when it comes to finding ways to get a website on the map in the cyber world.  She specializes in SEO such as link building, re-targeting and AdWord campaigns.  In practicing these skills each day she has many quick tips to give your marketing campaigns a boost. Here are some of her tips and insider ideas to make the most of your company’s marketing dollars.

  • Google AdWords Google AdWords has a keyword planner to provide fresh ideas and help suggest new keywords based on your website and services. Try to be specific as possible when choosing those words. It is best to review your campaign at least once a week and make adjustments accordingly. When reviewing consider: CTR, average position, conversion rate, quality scores, and your budget accordingly. 
  • Re-targetingRe-targeting is focusing special advertisements towards people who have already visited your site. Visitors can get distracted very easily on the web and may leave your site for various reasons. By running re-targeting ads, you can try to entice your visitors to come back to your page. Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, and Google AdWords are just a few companies that offer re-targeting advertising options. When writing re-targeting ads, it is good to thank them for visiting your page and to try to offer a deal or sale to try to encourage them to come back. Try to keep it simple. 
  • SEO TipsThere are many ways to optimize a search for your business/service or product.  Here are three of my best pieces of advice. First, it is important to have quality dynamic content on your site. Posting relevant blog entries weekly will help boost your ranking. Also, the higher quality the information, the more recognition and visits to your page. Secondly, when optimizing each page of your site, try to focus your page titles, headers, and meta descriptions around one relevant focused keyword for each page. Finally, building links to quality sites still helps your organic search rank. Whether it is built into your business process or you hire an agency to do it for you, having quality links to your site are essential to improve your search rank.

 

Check back here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more web marketing insider tips!