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.

 

Industry Specific Social Site: ActiveRain

If you are in the real estate industry, you may have heard or already have an account with ActiveRain. This social channel is the world’s largest and most active professional network in the real estate industry boasting 285,233 members. If you happen to be in this industry but haven’t thought about signing up for an account, then read on to find out all the reasons why you should.

First and foremost, ActiveRain provides users with one of the industry’s largest real estate specific content library with over 4 million blog posts. This is due to members sharing their best practices from sales strategies and marketing to technology. Members are able to create and share blog posts onto the site to help teach and inform one other of real estate related topics. Through all of these helpful blogs, members are also able to build professional relationships with other real estate professionals around the United States and Canada, which can later help with building a national referral network.

These services can definitely help real estate professionals build a greater following; especially since other ActiveRain visitors are able to see member blog posts. The more people recognize your name and work, the better it will be for business.

Signing up to be a member of ActiveRain is completely free. In order to do this, click here! If you would like your blog posts to be seen and searched by the millions of ActiveRain visitors, you could upgrade your account to become a “Rainmaker”.  As a rainmaker member, not only will you be able to share your blog posts with millions of users but, you are able to create Hit Router and Home Search Campaigns using your IDX. To learn more about Rainmaker and its benefits visit here.

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.

Techniques to Increase Traffic to your Site

One of the most frequently asked questions from businesses is,  “How do we get more people to visit our website?”  At Sperling Interactive this is one of the things we successfully help our clients with regularly.  As marketers, we understand that what every business wants is more customers.  One of the best ways to get that is by having more people visit your website and convert into customers!  Here are some of our top tips of simple things that you can do to increase traffic to your website.

  1. Advertise Your Site – This may seem fairly simple but many companies forget that there are a multitude of channels through which to advertise.  Free business listings is the first place to start.  Be sure to have all pertinent information about your company in the listings including an easy link to your site, your phone number and google address. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you decide.  We can help you find the right channel for your desired audience.
  2. Social Media – Do you have great content on your site that you would like to promote?  One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote that content. Create links on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram pages.  Give tidbits of content on these sites and encourage viewers to visit your main site to get more information.
  3. Keywords – Specifically Long Tailed Keywords are optimal for attracting customers to your site.  Drive target searches to your site by using very specific and focused keywords.  Long-tail keywords account for a majority of web searches, meaning that if you’re not targeting them as part of your paid search or SEO efforts, you’re missing out. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find long-tail keywords that match up with your content or, even better, write content unique to your brand.
  4. Blogging – They say that content is king, so be sure your website has valuable content that viewers will want to access.  Blogging about your business field will draw customers to your products or services and give them a sense of your company’s voice through your blog.  In addition, search engines reward companies who are getting high-quality, consistent content coming from them.
  5. SEO – Optimizing your content for search engines is still a valuable and worthwhile practice. If customers are not able to find your company then the game is over.  Sperling Interactive has many techniques that will help your company be found.  Contact us today to start planning your SEO and Marketing strategy to increase traffic to your website.

Sperling Interactive Grand Opening- June 25, 2015

Sperling Interactive proudly announces the Grand Opening of their new office at 10 Derby Square in Salem, Massachusetts. Today’s Grand Opening marks a milestone in Sperling Interactive’s evolution from a fresh, new small business in 2008 to now a robust and flourishing business opening a new office in the beautiful historic district of Old Salem.

The story of Sperling Interactive’s  progress and success started many years ago when Co-Founders Mike and Jodi Sperling were young children.  Both born with a passion for photography, technology and the arts, they cultivated their talents and honed their skills getting respective degrees in Photojournalism and Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology.  After gathering years of experience in the newspaper industry, Mike became known as a “Media Guru” for his skills at photojournalism and his ability to manage multiple websites for daily and weekly publications.  At the same time, Jodi was sharpening her leadership skills while working as the Program Director of the Salem Boys and Girls Club for many years.  Together they took the leap in 2008 to start their own business using their natural abilities and passion for design and technology.  Sperling Interactive prides itself on custom and unique designs of websites, multimedia and photography.  They have assisted hundreds of company’s, both local and from other countries, develop brand awareness through logo and website design, social media marketing, print design, and search engine optimization.  Join us in congratulating Mike and Jodi Sperling in the opening of their new offices.  Cheers and good luck as you continue your journey.

Benefits of YouTube for Business

YouTube is not just for music videos and kids gaming tutorials.  Small businesses have begun to see the benefits of using YouTube for marketing and communicating with customers.  YouTube is now being used by businesses to demonstrate products, show off a company’s expertise, give training to customers, create a community of followers, solve customer problems and for promoting special events or sales.  Using YouTube for your business can be a cost-effective way to grow it, if used regularly as part of your marketing strategy. Let’s look at the benefits of the growing YouTube audience.

According to Grow Online, YouTube has some amazing statistics that just may win you over to their site.

  1. Online video is growing exponentially, with over 4 billion videos viewed daily. If you use YouTube for your business, you can easily reach your audience, both by creating videos and advertising on other people’s videos.
  2. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine and the 3rd most visited website worldwide, behind only Google and Facebook respectively.
  3. 1 billion people visit YouTube each month globally
  4. 100 hours of video are uploaded every 60 seconds to YouTube
  5. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any cable network.
  6. Posting on YouTube can help you get found on Google
  7. Grow a worldwide audience and make you a leader in your field.
  8. Build an email list

Elements of A Great Website

Your company’s website is the foundation of your marketing efforts.  Like the foundation of your home, it must have key elements that build up and support your business.  Websites can show how robust and dynamic your company truly is. What components are necessary to publicize your brand and promote your products and services in an easy to navigate format?  Here are some elements that are needed for a great website.

  • A simple and eye-pleasing design – Overly busy graphics and loud colors can detract from the content and message of your website. The viewers eye should go directly to the most important parts of your site including the: header, footer, menu and data collection form.  Choose interesting and easily readable typography.  Stick to colors and logos that are cohesive with your branding on other items such as your print media.
  • Integrate Social Media into the design – Assimilating your social media site on your main website is a critical part of your ultimate design.  Your website should have links to all your social media site including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.  Likewise your social media sites should also have links to your main website.
  • Internal Links – Links to other sections of your website are another important piece of design.  This will make navigating your website easier and will help your company keep track of where visitors have been.
  • Well-chosen images – Images can really help people visualize your products or services and their benefits. Be sure to include photos of every product you sell. Attractive product shots can really boost your sales.
  • Personalize it – Include an “About Us” section. People are often hesitant to buy things online because they miss the personal interaction of doing business face to face. The best way to overcome their reluctance is to include an “About Us” page that provides information about you, your staff and your business. Also include testimonials that will help people see how reliable and strong you are wlth customer service.