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Cryptocurrencies Bit by Bit

Over recent months, the interest in cryptocurrencies has risen significantly, from both within the tech world and mainstream media. First proposed by Wei Dai in 1998 a cryptocurrency is a form of virtual currency, the most popular of which is Bitcoin – coming about some 11 years after Dai’s proposal. The rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies as an accepted form of payment has now moved from the cyber world and made its way onto the streets, with the some coffee shops now allowing you to use it for your morning caffeine fix, for example.

Whilst Bitcoin continues to be the most well-known virtual currency, the ever growing range of cryptocurrencies now numbers over 70. Some of the other cryptocurrencies growing in notoriety include Ripple, Litecoin, the short-lived Coinye and let’s not forget Dogecoin! Who would have thought the star of last year’s breakout meme, Doge, would have ended up with his own currency? Much wow, indeed.

If you’re anything like us here at WebHostingBuzz, your interest in cryptocurrencies will have been well and truly piqued. Fortunately, our bit by bit guide is here to tell you everything you need to know about virtual currencies, from what they’re made of to how to mine them.

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6 key ways on using Tumblr more effectively and boost your marketing efforts

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Tumblr is a microblogging site/social platform that has been in operation since 2007. There are around 176 million Tumblr blogs in circulation, with approximately 200 million monthly visits.

To use Tumblr is simple. To effectively use Tumblr, it’s just as simple, though there are just a few key areas you need to pay attention to.

1. The Interface and Social Networking

The interface is an absolute delight; need to post a quote? There’s a button. An image? A button. How about a link? You guessed it, there’s a button. Access to the interface is located at the top of your dashboard and clearly labelled. This amount of organisation is suited for a wide range of users but also, it’s visually pleasing in it’s simplicity.

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Tumblr is more of a social network than a dedicated blogging platform. It does of course have blogging functionality but it isn’t limited to just that. One of Tumblr’s greatest strengths is the integration with other platforms, interaction with fellow users and how easy it is to share with one another.

To fully utilise Tumblr’s full potential, you will need to put in a little effort. Thankfully that is all it really is –  a little effort, as Tumblr is a viable platform to use for personal or business use.

2. How to be Seen on Tumblr

In order to be seen on Tumblr, you need use the correct tags. Tags are imperative to each and every one of your posts. Without them, users are unable to find your content through searches as Tumblr doesn’t use conventional keywords like other social networks.

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There is no official limit to how many tags you can use, but the general rule of thumb is between 7 and 12 tags. Any more than that and it may be considered spammy.

A great way to determine which tags are trending is to use the Tumblr search within the Tumblr dashboard. Alternatively, you can go to the search field from your browser http://www.tumblr.com/search. Simply type in a tag(s) you wish to use and pay attention to the results. Does your tag(s) relate with the results?

It’s all very well targeting a wealth of tags to increase your chances of being found, but ensure that the tags are relevant to the nature of your post. Tumblr users aren’t likely to share your content if you hijack a wide range of irrelevant tags. The trick is to monitor the other tags associated with the tag you are targeting.

3. Reblogging Vs Reposting

As with alternative social platforms, you can like posts or reblog them (the same as Twitter’s retweet function). Reblogging a post can be configured too as you can add additional tags to the original entry. You can add as many as you like, but it goes without saying that abusing the amount of keywords will impact your presence in a negative way.

Reblogging is different to reposting. Reblogging a post leaves a trail to the original source in the form of notes. Reposting is simply taking authorship of an original post. While you can go ahead and do the latter, some Tumblr users may not be so favourable of your methods; the reblogging method creates further traffic for the original poster. If you break that link, the original user may be missing out on a potential audience. Remember, it’s a social platform so you might want to take this advice as to not alienate yourself from other users.

4. Tumblr’s and SEO

Tumblr isn’t a conventional SEO package and it has been argued whether Tumblr has much weight in terms of search engine results. Despite the many automated tasks and ease of use, Tumblr will not necessarily raise your profile in search engines. You can manually edit the SEO to increase your chances though in a few custom fields.

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As with all SEO guidelines, ensure the title of your post is relevant and contains any keywords you are targeting for – you are able to customise the URL for your post too.

5. Connecting With Your Audience Who Aren’t Tumblr Users

In order for your audience to connect, they need to be able to like and reblog your posts. Once they have done one of the two, they are then able to make a comment. What about users who do not have a Tumblr account? You can rectify this by installing the popular comment system Disqus to Tumblr.

After following the instructions on the Disqus site, non-Tumblr users can comment. Of course, they would benefit from a Disqus account, but as most social platforms require a registration, by implementing Disqus – a universal platform that can be integrated everywhere – you increase the chances of engaging with your audience.

6. Customisation

There is a wealth of readily available themes both free and for premium use – many of which are more than adequate for most scenarios. If you intend to configure your site appearance to match your own existing site or whether you simply cannot find a theme suitable for your needs, you can create your own.

Theming in Tumblr is relatively straightforward if you are skilled with HTML and CSS. There are numerous sites featuring tutorials on how you can do this. Alternatively you could try a premium theme from the likes of Theme Forest or hire one of the many Tumblr developers available on a popular freelance site such as oDesk.

Even if you decide not to change the theme itself, there are many ways to customise at the click of a button without knowing any code. If you are familiar with CSS though, you can add styles in the Advanced tab of your theme. It’s really that simple. As a social network, Tumblr is arguably one of the most flexible in terms of customisation.

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In Summary

Tumblr is an excellent source for engaging with your audience and sharing content. In terms of business, the visual element is ideal for promoting products and/or services and in some respects, similar to Pinterest. Additionally, Tumblr is a great medium for blogging too – either to supplement your main website, or as your sole website.

As Tumblr is both free and hosted, you have nothing to lose. Other than your time creating a suitable content strategy plan!

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How Many Links Should I Have on a Page?

Is this a question you sometimes ask yourself? The guidelines sometimes change as to how many is too many and whether having too few links will penalise your pages but it’s good to have a general idea on the ‘for’s and against’s’ for links.

In the past there was a limitation of 100 links per page as anything over that might not get indexed. That rule of thumb has since changed and while it’s not set in stone, you can exceed that amount of links as long as it’s reasonable. Unfortunately, reasonable isn’t clearly defined by the likes of Google, namely Matt Cutts, but applying a degree of common sense to the amount of links you implement, without being excessive, should reduce the risk of being penalised.

How do you avoid being penalised? Don’t use spammy links is a straight-forward answer, but the ratio of links to actual content should be significant. Endless paragraphs filled with links will not only jeopardise your pages in terms of indexing, but it will put off your readers. If you do find that you need to include a lot of links, then that’s fine – just as long as the rest of your page complements the links with rich content that appeals to your audience and not aimed at search bots.

Keep the links relevant to your content and the context of your site. It isn’t necessary to link to a home page for every company you mention, but if you are targeting a specific product or service for an outside source, then it’s safe to link to it. Your audience want to find answers fast and efficiently. Although searching for an article mentioned on your page isn’t entirely strenuous, make it easy for your users and put in the appropriate link so they don’t have to search for it themselves.

While on the subject of how many links your pages have, ensure you pay attention to any broken links you may have. Not only is it entirely frustrating for someone to click on a link only to see a 404 page, but it’s bad practice for your website to have broken links; if a link doesn’t work, chances are your audience will go elsewhere – especially if you are selling a product or service.

If you regularly link to external sites, consider setting up a schedule of sorts by checking the quality of links on your site. It isn’t uncommon for URL’s to change through redesigns, deletion or general maintenance from webmasters that decide on renaming their pages. There are many tools out there to check for broken links. One such source could be the W3C’s own Link Checker. It’s free to use and with a reasonable amount of options.

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Why you should use Dropbox: File Sharing, Version Control and Data Backup

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.

Getting Started

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’.

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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.

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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?

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Putting Your Code into Brackets(.io)

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?

Brackets is a text editor built on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Predominantly it’s aimed at web designers and developers built on and around web standards. Since it’s release in 2012, it has been gaining more and more converts. Presented by Adobe and featuring many ways to incorporate Adobe Edge into the platform make this an editor with a future.

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.

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Is it in Your Interest to Use Pinterest?

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.

In Summary

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.

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8 Web Design Trends on the Horizon for 2014?

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.

6. Flexbox

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.

In Summary

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.

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Effective Ways to Write a Headline

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.

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How to Create a WordPress Theme – Interactive Guide

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/

How to Build a WordPress Theme | Web Hosting Buzz

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.

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Ghost CMS: Giant Killer?

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.

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