What is Dropbox?
Dropbox is a simple and effective way to share files with one another. To do this, you have a central ‘drop off location’ for all your files. Whether you intend to have access to your files on the go, or sharing with others, Dropbox is available anywhere. Plus – it’s all automated. Simply access the Dropbox website, log in and hey presto!
Created in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox has since grown from it’s two founders to 350+ employees – even better for us end users, the capacity available when you create an account with Dropbox has also significantly increased to accommodate all types of users.
Head over to Dropbox.com, and read through the documentation (there’s a business section worth reading if it applies to your intended use). You will need to sign up for an account with the usual details such as your name, email address and password. Once you have read and agreed the Dropbox terms, click ‘Sign up’.
You’ll be presented with three choices: Basic is free and with 2GB capacity, Pro which starts from $9.99 per month and over 100GB capacity, then a Business account which gives you as much space as you require, unlimited version history and over 5 users. Once you have decided, your download will begin.
The actual installation provides you with a local copy of your Dropbox folder. Whatever you put in here will be accessible should you wish to share it. Following the installation, you should see an icon in your toolbar for Dropbox, linking to your local folder. If you wish to share a file or folder, simply drag it to Dropbox. That’s it.
To gain more control of what files and folders are shared and with whom, you will need to log in to Dropbox.com with the email and password you set up a moment or so ago. The welcome screen (for illustrative purposes, the following is configured for a free account) will display a few options such as a Dropbox tour, a few tutorials to get you started, plus a certain amount of social media elements such as sharing folders with a friend or inviting other users. There are incentives too. If you complete the tasks, you are allocated more free space. It’s not mandatory, however.
Quick Configuration at the Click of a Button
Once you’ve gone through the tour and perhaps invited some friends or co-workers to Dropbox, you’ll want to be able to share files and folders. It could not be simpler. If you wanted to share a folder of images from your blog or a folder of code with a fellow developer, navigate to the folder in question, right click your mouse and then enter the email address of the recipient.
For projects in particular, instead of sending attachments back and forth through email, by uploading the latest file into your local Dropbox folder, your recipients/contributors will have access to the most up-to-date files. There is no need to sift through emails, checking when the last version of a file was sent and what version was sent either.
If you frequently take screenshots of work in progress, or troubleshooting and you aren’t necessarily sharing the source files or folders, Dropbox will automatically store your screenshots into the Dropbox folder. This a huge time saver if you need to keep providing updates by the way of a screenshot. Of course, this feature can be turned off – should the screenshots you take conflict with other matters!
Automatic Backup Across Multiple Devices and Accessible Anywhere
Aside from sharing files and folders, Dropbox is an excellent way to backup your data. As mentioned before, you have a local file of your Dropbox folder installed on your computer. Once a file or folder is placed within this local folder, it is then synched across the Dropbox servers and then to any other devices or users you have given authorisation too. This is a great way of backing up your data, though it’s highly recommended you have other methods in place as well as Dropbox.
This in turn works great for travelling. There is no need to lug around multiple hard drives and USB sticks when travelling as all you need to do is access the Dropbox site, then anything you have placed in your Dropbox folder will be available. Depending on the connectivity of the area you will be travelling, it might be worth having backups to hand, but generally speaking, if you are commuting around the city, you can travel light. Simply access the Dropbox site and you will have full access to your Dropbox cloud services.
The Small Print
The small print here is minimal really. To receive as much as 2GB storage you need not do anything as it’s free as standard. Should you require a larger capacity, then there are many options to expand if you require it.
Dropbox is an excellent solution for individuals and businesses that can reduce the need for sending email attachments back and forth, improve workflow for contributive projects and even backup your data to a cloud service. Of course Dropbox isn’t a complete solution – you will still need other backup options and will need to address what service you require to fully benefit. Nonetheless, Dropbox comes pretty close to being a great all round package. There are so many more things you can do with it which we will tackle in a later post. Please let us know your experience with Dropbox – whether for personal or business use. Do you use an alternative worth mentioning?
We all have our own preference on text editors. Some like the completeness and presentation of Coda 2, the increasingly popular and lightning fast Sublime Text, while others may prefer the simplicity of Notepad++. There are a quite a few text editors at your disposal, but for this piece, let’s take a look at Brackets.
What is Brackets?
Stand out Features
One of the greatest ‘wow factors’ of Brackets is the real time feature. For those who may have used LiveReload, you might be familiar of the concept: compile your code and rather than keep refreshing or reloading your browser window for any changes, it’s all done automatically. However, where Brackets raises the bar is the real time output. As you edit code on the fly, your browser is automatically refreshed. No need for saving each time. This feature is superb as you can experiment more fluently , visually seeing if something will work or not. Great for testing the flow of your content – notably aspects such as typography, what colours work, general layout – the list goes on.
To accompany the real time preview aspect, each time you click on an area – be it HTML or CSS – the area is highlighted in a focus mode of sorts, allowing you to target various segments of your page – again, in a highly visual and intuitive manner.
Like Sublime Text has a package manager for allowing you to extend the functionality of the software, so to has Brackets with it’s Extension Manager. The Extension Manager is much more intuitive than it’s Sublime Text counterpart as it features a very simple management interface with search functions and compatibility lists.
There are many more features within the current Brackets build (36 as of writing) that haven’t been covered here. One such feature that shows a lot of promise is Theseus – principally used for debugging with Google Chrome and Node.js. Other new features include faster file caching, improved code hints for CSS including Sass and LESS.
Free For All: Brackets is Free to Use
To fully appreciate the practicality of Brackets, we encourage you to download it and give it a trial. There’s no emphasis on the word trial however as this is a pure open source platform and should remain 100% for the foreseeable future. For now however, it’s free to use and certainly worth experimenting with.
Whether you’re a hardened veteran coder, new to web design or just simply looking to tweak your own website, the visual aspect of coding and seeing real time amendments is a selling point in itself. That’s not to say that the very many features both present and in development aren’t appealing – they most certainly are as you can see from the above. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
No doubt we need not tell you that social networks are here to stay for the foreseeable future as an avenue to reach your client base/readership. We would also make the assumption that you’re well aware that Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate as the market leaders. However, of all the social platforms available, Pinterest is currently building up enough momentum to not necessarily challenge the other two (or others), but complement them. It’s time to pay attention to the many benefits Pinterest can have for your business or ventures.
The Pinterest Concept
For those of you who have yet to experience Pinterest, here it is in a nutshell. Pinterest allows users to share images they’ve collected around the web in a virtual scrapbook. Each image a user shares is called a pin which is displayed on a board. Boards can be labelled and tagged and shared with the rest of the world. Fellow users can either ‘like’ the pins you have made or re-pin them to their own boards to share with their own follows. At the time of writing, there are in excess of 70 million users on Pinterest. Not a bad user base at all, considering it’s just approaching it’s 4th year anniversary.
Your Target Audience
It’s important to note who your audience is and how to cater for them. From a recent study that you may have or may not have already seen, the majority of Pinterest users are women. You may have also read that as much as 80% of the people who use Pinterest are women. While this is true, the market is always changing and with the renewed interest Pinterest is currently receiving, it is important to cater for both male and female audiences of all age groups.
You might be pleasantly surprised how often Pinterest users share in comparison to other social networks such as Facebook. In order to appeal to their interests, you need to carefully monitor trends in the Pinterest ‘sphere’. Is your product related to their interests? How can you appeal to their needs? If these power users are not your target audience, find a way to encourage them to share your content with their followers. They don’t have to be interested in your product or services for themselves, but if it’s likely to appeal to their own followers or produce more attention to their own boards, that can be an incentive to reach out to a broader audience.
While Pinterest is largely a female audience, don’t underestimate that it is an exclusive platform for women only. The statistics are always changing, so ensure you cater for a wide audience when appropriate.
You can target particular users by having multiple boards. There’s no reason why you can’t have variations of a product or service that target multi demographics. There are no limitations to the amount of boards you can create. Just make sure you keep them organised – as you would a physical scrapbook – ideally, at least!
It’s a Visual Thing
We all know that a picture paints a 1000 words and in the case of Pinterest, that applies here too. Pinterest is a scrapbook/board to display for all to see. It’s about presentation, catching someone’s eye and generating enough interest to gain some exposure and receive some shares. In this case, re-pins.
Pinterest is not about sharing your ideas or thoughts through text alone. Of course you could produce imagery with a mission statement, quote or way of life and present it in the form of an infographic, hand lettering piece or using a graphics program making good use of a selection of typefaces. Typography and quotes are actually one of the biggest draws to Pinterest, but aside from writing a piece of text that captures the imagination of your viewers, you will need to make it visually appealing to stand out.
Besides, Pinterest is about visuals, so if you want to share a particular quote of statement with your followers, perhaps use an alternative like Facebook or Twitter or even a blog post if you have the facilities. Ideally you’ll need to know which social platform works best for the task at hand. Pinterest handles infographics with ease!
Incomplete Descriptions Do Not Guarantee Results
Simply sharing a few images and re-sharing others in the hope of getting a wealth of traffic may not bear fruit as fast you may hope. It’s quite surprising just how many Pinterest users that don’t add text to their pins. Sure, the image speaks for itself, but how are they going to find it other than word of mouth or through re-shares on others’ boards?
Entering a few keywords that relate to the product, service, feature etc… plus a relevant description that will help people find your pins should suffice. Once people find your boards, the chances or your content finding the right audience is greatly increased.
The majority of fresh content is re-shared – in this case, re-pinned. Produce great content that appeals to a broad audience and you’re likely to get seen. Ensure you write the right descriptions for your pins in order to be found on user searches.
Don’t just limit your boards to your own pins however – re-share others’ pins – perhaps your customers or peers if necessary. Pinterest is a social network and should not be interpreted as a one sided affair.
Pinterest isn’t solely dedicated to the confides of the application – Pinterest exists outside of the platform so add ‘Pin It’ social buttons to your content so that your audience can share and help drive traffic to your website.
Knowing When to Use Pinterest and When Not To
Sharing the same content over a variety of social accounts won’t necessarily appeal to your audience. If they are following you on Facebook, they probably don’t want to see the same post from Facebook plastered across their Twitter, Google + and Tumblr feeds. Instead, break it up. Share a thought on Twitter, a link with your thoughts on Facebook, perhaps an infographic on Pinterest and an up and coming product release on a platform such as Instagram.
There’s no reason you cannot link to each social account in one way or another, but repeating across each network without acknowledging the strength and weakness of each one could all be in vain.
As touched upon in the introduction, Pinterest won’t necessarily replace yours or your audiences choice as their one and only network, but it will complement the other platforms they use. For example they may use Twitter and Pinterest, Facebook and Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, and so on and so on. However, Pinterest cannot be overlooked as a very viable market for marketing and connecting with your user base – regardless of your field.
Why not take Pinterest for a test spin; add some content, like other’s boards and connect with an audience who you intend to sell/provide a service for? It’s a very simple platform to see almost immediate results. Or, if you’re looking to share with like minded people, you may just be in your element as Pinterest has a wide range of categories to delve into and the user base to match.
Allowing for the dust to settle for the first month of the year, it’s time for a few predictions on web design trends for 2014 based on today’s current practices. These are a few predictions that may be worth considering for your existing site(s) that could potentially improve traffic, conversions and ideally build on the overall positive experience for your users.
You will note there are a few familiar predictions for web design trends in 2014 and you may find similar thoughts here that others have shared on the internet about this year’s trends. This list is based on our experience at WebHostingBuzz and we are as optimistic as everybody else about these trends materialising, thus gearing up for a potential big year for the web.
1. Responsive Design on the Increase
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a fundamental aspect of web design for many and it’s apparent that more and more websites have adopted this approach to best accommodate their visitors. With RWD, you are designing for all devices – not just a select few. Instead of structuring your website around a popular devices such as Apple breakpoints (i.e. the iPhone, iPad and desktop), target all devices so that regardless of screen size, your website is optimised for the viewing screen and not for a fixed device.
The increase of RWD is also pushing back mobile only sites. Mobile only sites are specifically aimed at the mobile market and effectively serve two different websites: one for mobile, another for everything else. In many respects, a lot of mobile sites are a ‘watered down’ version of the main site and don’t feature what the desktop users can view. Generally speaking, mobile specific sites are configured for a better mobile experience, albeit with a lot of elements sometimes removed. With RWD on the rise – especially mobile first development – it is getting to the stage where a mobile specific page may become obsolete as a mobile first alternative can achieve the same results – if not better.
2. Sass, LESS and the CSS Pre-Processors
Exposure of the pre-processor syntax has been so positive for 2013, that more and more people have adopted to this approach. A pre-processor such as Sass is an efficient way to improve the time you spend on the coding of your site. There is an emphasis on the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) method.
Larger sites especially will benefit from this practice as you can use many variables, placeholders and mixins to shortcut through any updates or amendments to your site without having to manually find and replace keywords. A pre-processor is a great time saver and in the long run of things, will potentially reduce production time and maintenance to a site.
Many designers and developers have since made that jump to a pre-processor and realise that there really isn’t that much to it in terms of learning a new language – it’s more of a series of extensions to supercharge your existing CSS methods. The likes of frameworks such as Foundation and Bootstrap have brought this practice to the forefront of development and this community, as one of many examples, has informed one another of the many benefits of a pre-processor. Look out for more and more sites compiled in Sass in particular.
3. Focus on Delivering Quality Content
Search engines – namely Google, change their algorithms so frequently and to such a significant effect that sites previously ranking high on the first few pages suddenly see a dramatic drop in their position. No doubt there will be another big shake up for Google this year, so ensure you are producing content for people rather than computers.
Granted, you still need to pay attention to writing a good headline, quality content and ways to appeal to your audience, but stuffing your content with excessive keywords and targeting user searches that may only be revised in the coming year may be a tad fruitless. Website owners are realising that there isn’t a guaranteed way to reach the top of the ranking wars through tried and tested methods. If there are, they could only potentially change in the very near future. Future proof your content by writing engaging, interesting and unique subjects for your audience and not solely for search engines.
4. Hover Effects an Obsolete Styling Feature?
With touch devices key for many users who access the internet, the hover effect appears quite redundant. Developments are slowly leading to whether they are needed as much – if at all.
As touch devices don’t have a cursor function, there is no need for the :hover. Recent revisions to the flat design trend mean that a lot of designers have stripped down their UI’s to remove all effects that include hovers, shadows and other styling that has since been unnecessary.
It’s debatable whether flat design can move things forward, but regardless if a design is flat or applies the skeuomorphism technique, hover effects are potentially on their way out.
5. SVG In, PNG Out
There is an increased push for the implementation of SVG’s as opposed to PNG’s. No doubt you are aware, as vector images, they are limitless in scalability, providing high resolution graphics that are genuinely adaptable for all devices.
Of course the SVG movement hasn’t been without it’s fair share of teething problems. Sometimes compatibility issues with browsers or devices, files that are actually larger than their PNG counterparts and in many cases, an SVG cannot replace a JPEG for items such as photographs or non-vector based artwork.
Support is improving more and more and with so many applications supporting SVG natively now, it’s only a matter of time until these SVG’s replace a lot of the graphics on the web.
Flexbox has had it’s fair share of the limelight. As another newer technology, more and more people are pushing for it’s use and how it can potentially change web development for the better.
Again, support isn’t perfect yet, but it’s getting there. In a nutshell, Flexbox is a layout tool that can effectively manage a container and it’s elements to resize and recalculate it’s contents with ease. For a better understanding of Flexbox, read this excellent guide at CSS Tricks.
7. Bigger and Bolder Use of Imagery (and Typography)
You don’t have to look far now to see websites that make full use of the screen with photography, graphics – even large type. In the past these sites would have been a nightmare to load, but with the increased methods on how to serve images – be it through a simple website optimisation, in-app feature or even your own methods of hosting images i.e. a CDN, 2014 couldn’t be a better opportunity for experimenting more with space, colour and graphics.
There are no longer the limitations of sites being restricted to a 960px width. Your page layout could literally expand to a HDTV or shrink to a mobile. A combination of RWD and ways to serve images are key to this.
Another factor for using large images is the increased availability of high resolutions images available – in many cases Creative Common licenses that can be used for personal and/or commercial use too. There is an abundance of imagery available and what better way to apply for the coming year?
8. Less Sliders, More Animation
CSS makes animation a reality in lieu of resource heavy files or embedded clips. Rather than have large images in a slider, more and more people are noting the benefits of using animated backgrounds. Surprisingly they aren’t as difficult as they may appear and can only further enhance your brand/identity on the web with a personalised animated background.
Of course, there are perfectly good slider plugins available for the less tech savvy, but there aren’t a great deal of animated plugins – especially as they are so personal. The beauty of the animations though is that you can make great use of SVG and CSS, ensuring it looks good on all screens, but more importantly, it’s lightweight and no need for endless scripts to be added to your pages. For more on animation – in particular @keyframes, check out an older Smashing Magazine article.
As you can see from the above, these are just a select few of some of the predicted web trends for 2014. There are of course a lot more we have omitted – for example the increase of flat design sites, the Parallax effect and the combination of typefaces, but a lot of those occurred and gained momentum in 2013.
It will be interesting to note how these trends will develop and whether there will be any newcomers to the scene this year that can perhaps change the way that we look at and use the web.
The headlines within your content matter. Not just because they divide paragraphs and themes from one another. It isn’t just because many readers skim over text and glance over the headlines looking for a summary and it isn’t but because they matter in your search results. They are all factors to implementing a headline effectively and for a purpose.
The following tips may help towards engaging your readers, motivating them to read your content because you have paid attention to the headline. The tips won’t hurt towards your search page results either.
Heading Hierarchy: Prioritise Your Headlines
The title tag is one of the most important areas of markup on your page. It also gives your page a title, adds it to the snippet in the search results that is understandable for your audience and search engines. Ideally title tags should contain your focused keyword(s) and company name if applicable as the title tag is one of the first points of call. For help with your keywords, try out Google’s Keyword Planner (you’ll need a Google account to use).
What about the rest of the headings? Well, the H1 tag is usually reserved for your site name which should only occur once on each page – again with your main keyword and company name if applicable. The H2 tag is equally of importance. Where the H1 tag should only be used once, the H2 can be used anywhere that applies, though should not be used excessively and with it’s own sub-headings where required.
In summary, your title tag headline is arguably the most important in terms of SEO, but it also plays a part in what your viewers see in the search results. The H1 tag should be used for your site name with the focused keyword if relevant and practical. H2 is suitable for main headings for each page, though can be reused for breaks in subject i.e. if the page is displaying multiple blog posts. You can continue to use cascading headings from H3 – H6, though most sites do not go past H4, generally speaking.
Calculated Headline Techniques
There are some common conventions at your disposal for writing an attention grabbing headline. Beginning with a “How to…” or “10 Examples of…” – these type of headlines usually correspond with the search terms that users are searching for on a regular basis, thus more likely to see what you have written.
For instance, one person may be searching for a way to increase their subscriptions with a search such as “How do I get more subscribers”. Typical headlines that will appeal to them in the search results may be similar to “How to get more subscribers” or “10 ways to gain new subscribers”. How about “Reasons on why you need to address subscriptions”. All of these apply to the search and chances are each of them will appeal to most visitors looking for such terms.
Using Headlines to Separate Content
One of the easiest and most effective ways to separate content with the headlines of “10 Ways to…” is to break down each step into a headline.
Sometimes your readers do not want to read the whole article you’ve provided perhaps due to time constraints or maybe they are looking for one answer in particular and ‘know the rest’. If the article in question was for a product review of a camera you could break down into the following steps (or stages) of review:
Product: First look at [model of camera]
Features: Exclusive to the [model]
Cost: How much does the [model] cost?
Verdict: In summary how does the [model] compare to others?
There are often occasions where the site visitor already knows what they want and are making comparisons to similar sites (whether it be product reviews or news articles) and are simply skipping to the areas that appeal. Making it clear where each section begins and ends will keep the visitor on your site for longer.
Targeting Headlines for a Conversion
A headline should follow through on it’s duty; gain a user’s attention, get a click through then the remaining headlines and contents drive towards a simple goal – a sale, a sign up for your newsletter, a social share or simply a comment on the content you have supplied.
If a headline isn’t compelling enough, chances are the reader will skip over your content – perhaps even click out of your site. In turn, this could affect your bounce rate.
Headlines are about persuasion. Capture your audience with an intriguing/challenging/functional headline in order for them to read the rest. Fail to do so and you may have lost them.
‘How to’ headlines are some of the most effective. You need not write the full ‘How to’ as this can be omitted though it’s implied meaning “How to Rank Higher on Google Search Results” is just as effective as “Top Form: Rank Higher on Google” in terms of appealing to readers. Search engines may differ with certain headlines so you will need to judge on ways to balance your priorities – be seen in the search results and/or appeal to your audience and get them to read your copy.
Edit, Re-edit Then Analyse
Experiment with your headlines. It’s perfectly ok to change your headline if it isn’t as successful as you intended it to be. Consider whether your headline is meeting your goals for the targeted audience, if you are including the right keywords, whether a reader will actually read your headline or likely to glance over. There are differences of opinion when it comes to the length of a headline, but keeping it relatively short, concise yet evoking a click proves to be popular for many – especially as the length of the title is much easier to share on popular social platforms such as Twitter.
One of the simplest and most effective ways of evaluating your headlines is through analytical applications such as Google Analytics. From here you can determine what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to your bounce rate as well as the average duration a visitor spends on the page. If the bounce rate is high and the duration is low, you’ll need to address whether your headline is appropriate or not. Of course, content is paramount here as well, but if the headline isn’t drawing traffic to your site, then your copy is getting overlooked.
Fulfill the Headline With It’s Promise
Entice your readers with open headlines. Don’t summarise the conclusion in your headline – encourage your audience to read through to the conclusion. If you take a look at most magazines or newspapers, you’ll notice that a good deal of the headlines will get your attention. Not just because the size of the fonts are literally shouting at you, but because of the words used.
How many times have you read a good headline only to read the actual article and it didn’t deliver? Probably more than a fair share. When you use a headline, ensure that you keep to that promise it has made. If it begins with “10 Ways to improve your onsite SEO” make sure that you list 10 ways on how to do so. It’s ok to stray from the general theme, as long as you provide answers to your proposed question(s). A brief list of 10 items which follow on with something irrelevant will frustrate your readers. The headline works in this case as you have generated a click to the content in question.
If the content does not correlate with the promise of the headline, then in many respects, that has failed. When creating a content for your site, it’s always good practice to review your headlines to guarantee that you stay on topic and deliver.
With a huge number of WordPress themes, both free and paid, it can be a challenge to find the one that’s just right for your website.
At WebHostingBuzz we understand that challenge of building your very own WordPress theme and so have come up with a step-by-step guide linking to the best tutorials on the web for each stage of the process.
The solution to all your template woes, our easy to use guide can be found here: http://www.webhostingbuzz.com/guides/wordpress-theme/
Breaking the process down into 9 manageable stages, from planning to distributing, the experts will tell you everything you need to know to create your own theme.
Getting you off to a strong start, the planning stage prompts you to organise your initial ideas and concepts by writing them down to gain a clearer view of what you want from your theme and site. Deciding on the ‘must have’ aspects of your site at this stage will help you form a more concrete plan and allow you to progress to designing your theme.
The designing bit can be a fun task with the guide taking a look at typography, finding inspiration and picking out colours that will suit your theme. Once you’ve moved through this phase, the guide shows you how develop each of your pages in HTML and CSS, before installing a local webserver for a speedy and secure approach to theming.
The guide also encourages you to look more closely at WordPress as a whole, helping you to gain a better understanding of its structure before detailing how to download the framework of a blank WordPress theme to use as a blank canvas for your design.
With helpful tips on WordPress’ automatic features and how to avoid common WordPress mistakes and how to fix them, our guide offers up an array of knowledge and leaves no stone unturned.
The final hurdle of creating a theme is testing, which the guide shows you how to do in eight simple steps, then all that’s left is to decide whether you’d like to you distribute your theme.
As you can see, our guide is with you every step of the way; follow each stage and you’ll have your own professional WordPress theme in next to no time!
Let us know how you get on with creating your own theme in the comments below (powered by Facebook). We’d love to see what designs you’ve come up with.
What started out as a fictional WordPress fork has since evolved into a possible contender for the WordPress blogging crown.
John O’Nolan, a WordPress specialist who has built WordPress sites since 2005 and represented the WordPress UI Group among others, was growing mildly frustrated with how WordPress was no longer a blogging platform and more a complete platform.
While not anti-WordPress (in fact the opposite) he created a fictional manifesto on a potential platform that would focus specifically on blogging. This was originally a blog post for his readers and mostly himself, but once he started receiving emails asking ‘when will it be released’, he decided to set the wheels in motion.
Ghost mutated into a Kickstarter campaign in May 2013 that was tremendously successful. Of the £25,000 goal, over £195,000 was raised. Clearly John O’Nolan had realised a niche in the market. Since then, the official Ghost site has launched and is on the way to be a fully fledged hosted or self-hosted option.
Who is Ghost CMS for?
Ghost is predominantly a blogging platform. While WordPress has dominated the market for many bloggers, there has been an increase in the amount of blog writers who have been vocal about WordPress losing sight of the blogging platform. Whether or not there is any truth in the matter, Ghost looks likely to take a lot of the attention away from WordPress. That is, if it delivers as set out in the original proposal.
Ghost CMS is intended for writers who wish to write and not code. One of the problems John O’Nolan (among many others) faced was the amount of clutter and jumping from screen to screen to add or edit content.
When logging into WordPress, the writer is bombarded by a dashboard full of information. While useful, the majority of the time it doesn’t need to be seen at a glance. The Ghost dashboard is designed purely for your needs – allowing you to customise the appearance and functionality.
As well as the dashboard, to create a new post can sometimes be a drawn out process. When a user is adding content to a page or post, they are essentially ‘going in blind’ as they aren’t entirely sure how the page will look. Sure they can edit the text, but in order to get a preview, you need to jump to another screen. This has been rectified in Ghost as you can see a preview of the content within the same screen.
For many writers, the Markdown language has been the most useful. This method makes sense for many so Ghost applies those rules and you can edit content in Markdown with the preview on the same screen as mentioned before.
Ghost is currently available to download from the official Ghost site. At the time of writing, while you can download Ghost CMS to be used on your existing server (with certain configurations), their self-hosted options are not yet in force. For early adopters, this is a good chance to get your copy of Ghost CMS to install on your existing server to learn the ins and outs.
In order to gain access, you will require an account. Thankfully this is simply a username and password affair that allows you to download the software. As can be expected, there is already a marketplace where you can download themes – either for free or at a premium. Even though its early days, there is already quite the choice already available.
At the time of writing, Ghost currently has had over 88,000 downloads since the public release in October. Bearing in mind this is a new platform, Ghost CMS genuinely has a lot of potential and is garnering a great deal of interest.
For the time being, head over to the site, sign up and download the latest release (currently 0.3) and follow the excellent installation documentation. Ghost CMS is aimed for the blogging market but there is the possibility that it may develop into a fully fledged CMS like WordPress. WordPress too started out as a blogging platform that is now the most popular CMS with the largest market share. Whether Ghost CMS will follow, it is uncertain, but for the time being looks like a [blogging] giant killer.
Mobile First is becoming as popular a buzzword as responsive design has been for the past couple of years. However, like responsive design, it’s not just a buzzword, but a very valid approach for designing and developing our websites.
More and more people are accessing the web with their smartphones and tablets. So much so that within a short space of time, it is predicted that mobile users will outnumber the more traditional desktop user.
Why Mobile Matters
It has already been noted that Google prefer responsive websites, so why not build your design around mobile first and kill two birds with one stone? There are so many devices on the market – and coming onto the market – at a rapid pace that keeping up with the latest devices is near impossible. A possible solution would be building a mobile first website that is responsive.
The advantage of building from mobile up (progressive enhancement), is that you can build upon a base that is optimised for mobile. Rather than manually remove elements as your site scales down, you build upon existing foundations – you use only what you need at any given time.
Examples of Mobile First Approaches
The mobile first approach is not a new one as there are quite a few designer/developers that have modelled how successful it can be. One such designer is Andy Clarke of stuffandnonsense.co.uk. He created one of the first mobile first frameworks called 320 and Up. It has since been superseded by his new framework called Rock Hammer, though the mobile first principles apply.
Other developers have since followed suit with Zurb Foundation 4 followed by Twitter Bootstrap’s later edition. Another pattern, not directly linked to mobile first as such, is the implementation of Sass. One of the many thoughts behind using Sass with the above frameworks is that the developer only uses what they need to use. Mobile users don’t get bombarded with redundant code – weighing down the mobile users connection limitations. As is often the case.
Of course, mobile first isn’t the solution – it’s a solution. Current practises include the more traditional method of designing for the desktop then scaling down to the appropriate mobile size when necessary. An issue with this however, is the site is designed for larger screen sizes and, predominantly, higher connection speeds. Depending on your location, mobile connection speeds are generally quite poor in comparison to broadband speeds.
The term often used for the ‘design for desktop’ approach is called graceful degradation. Before, this was the norm, but as is often the case, these buzzwords eventually become more than just a term and evolve into a particular workflow.
Using separate stylesheets is another method that a lot of developers implement. A mobile specific stylesheet can override existing styles to use exclusively for mobiles only. These stylesheets will load using device detection and depending on the provider, can give the option of using a mobile specific site or to use the desktop version. Google and some news sites are prime examples of this method.
Whether you decide to design around a mobile first, responsive design site, continue with the graceful degradation method or use a separate stylesheet is entirely dependent on your userbase. Regardless, mobile users cannot be overlooked as a separate market of sorts. Determining how to serve a mobile site as an exclusive mobile site or building from mobile up are two different methods with, at times, considerably different results.
We recently had a customer send in a support ticket with a question along the lines of “If I have multiple domains, do I need to buy a separate web hosting plan for each?”.
The answer of course is no. Many of our customers have multiple domain names, and so our packages are created with that in mind. If you have a portfolio of websites, our shared hosting plans do allow you to add additional ‘add-on’ domains. However, this can be insecure as you only have one login, meaning if someone gains access to your cPanel account, they will have control over however many domains you have on that account. You may also find that your public_html directory gets complicated and confusing, so we recommend Reseller/VPS accounts for this purpose.
If you sign up for a Reseller account, you’ll be given a main administrator (root) user account with which you can login to WebHostManager and create as many end-user cPanel accounts as you like (limited to 50 with Reseller Light). Although standard Shared hosting supports ‘add-on’ domains, these are all under one login and so you don’t have the same flexibility.
Creating individual cPanel accounts for each domain is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- Security – Each website has a unique login and if one cPanel account is compromised, the rest of your accounts will be safe (as long as your root account is still secure).
- Organization – As each account has a separate root directory, files are organised and you will find it easier and quicker to navigate.
- Manageability – Rather than having to login to many separate cPanel accounts when you wish to edit content on each website, you can instead simply view a list of your cPanel accounts within the WHM root account and click on the cPanel logo next to each to be automatically logged in.
- Ownership – If you decide to sell a website at some point, rather than having to transfer over many files, you can instead simply change the username and password and hand over that cPanel account to the person you have sold the website to.
To a degree, you could think of our Reseller plans as a bridge between Shared and VPS hosting. You have increased capacity, the benefit of being able to create cPanel accounts, but without having to do the maintenance and security tasks associated with a VPS.
If you’re interested in our Reseller plans, click here for more information and a comparison.
What is Remarketing?
Remarketing, or retargeting, stimulates interest in an existing product or service which your potential customers have either visited or displayed some degree of engagement in the past.
This could mean someone who has recently visited your site or Facebook page but has been possibly interrupted or non-committed – such as abandoning the shopping cart just before making a conversion.
One of the greatest advantages of a remarketing strategy is that the advertisements are targeted to previous visitors and are tailored to a product or service that they may genuinely be interested in, based on past browsing behaviour. This can drive visitors to your site and potentially recapture your customers’ attention.
A Suitable Strategy
The first step is analysing your data. From here you can target particular groups that have shown consideration of a product. This can apply to visitors who have viewed a single page to people who have withdrawn from the final shopping cart stage as mentioned above.
Rather than have a generic ad for all, you can apply an ad per product. For example if you have 20 products, you would have a customised advertisement for each and every one. This way you are making the experience unique to the user.
With remarketing campaigns, it is inevitable that you will duplicate costs in your pay per clicks, but you have a higher chance for conversions as the customers have been somewhat ‘sourced’ already.
The Advantage of Using Facebook
Facebook remarketing targets visitors who have already visited your site or Facebook page and providing them with an advertisement that is relevant to their needs. The beauty of using Facebook is that that audience has already been established, the pages and posts that they have ‘liked’ and their online habits already accounted for.
You can create advertisements using Facebook’s ad platform, targeting many different demographics using precise interest targeting or broad category targeting as an example. These same ads when displayed in Facebook result in higher conversions due to the use of product images and or branding.
Another aspect of Facebook advertising is Facebook Exchange (FBX). FBX is real time bidding for remarketing Facebook ads. These ads are highly customisable allowing you to target users who have made actions outside of Facebook. Marketers can then apply tracking cookies across their pages in order that they can retarget the same users with personalised advertisements once they log back into Facebook.
Using Google AdWords
Similar to the way FBX works, Google AdWords allows for tracking cookies to monitor people who display enough interest in your content. Using a simple snippet in conjunction with a Google Analytics account you can track returning visitors of each page.
You need to link your existing AdWords account with your Analytics one in order to configure. Once synchronised, you can set up Remarketing Lists via the remarketing tab within the Admin section. Within this section you can choose to monitor people who visited specific pages or sections of a site, those who complete a conversion goal or create a custom remarketing type. Of course, you can set up the same Remarketing Lists within your AdWords account.
Possible Issues Such as Privacy
Not all customers would be entirely satisfied with being targeted for remarketing. You run the risk of alienating some of the people who have already purchased and continue to do so. Some may also be concerned with privacy matters if they are continually seeing an advertisement for a product or service that they have only looked at in the past. Worse still if they actually bought it. While it is inevitable that visitors will see campaigns in one form or another, they might not actually want to see it. Being bombarded may in turn put them off.
Still, people need to be informed about online advertising and how it works to some degree. It is worth noting that visitors of your site or page have interacted with what you have projected in the past. There is a greater likelihood of them reestablishing their interest if targeted. Facebook remarketing is a reasonably cost effective and personalised strategy and worthy of consideration.