Categotry Archives: Web building

6 Essential WordPress Plugins 2015 and beyond

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WordPress empowers more than 23% of the internet, which in fact means a lot of websites. The reason people are more attracted to WordPress is that it does not require a specialized degree in computer science or ecommerce to use. Someone with basic knowledge of the internet and how content management systems works can use it without a fuss.

The best thing about WordPress is that the user can find plug-ins for almost everything he wants from his WordPress website. According to the official website, there are more than 35,000 WP plugins and the number is increasing day by day. The problem here is that what are the plugins that you really need to get through 2015? Here is the list of 6 essential WordPress plugins for 2015 and beyond that you simply cannot ignore.

W3 Total Cache:wordpress plugins

If you want to make sure that your websites load smooth throughout 2015, you cannot ignore W3 Total Cache. It is one of the most downloaded plugins having more than 4.1 million downloads until December 2014 and the number is rising with every new WordPress installation. W3 Total Cache helps in decreasing page load time, compresses WordPress data for less bandwidth usage and improves overall page performance.

W3 Total Cache

WordPress SEO by Yoast

SEO cannot be ignored but what if you do not have time to manage everything it requires from you? Get your hands on WordPress SEO by Yoast, the simplest, easiest and most successful SEO plugin for WordPress. After you have this plugin installed, it allows you to include target keywords, meta tags and meta description, generate XML sitemaps, configure .htaccess and robots.txt file and has social media integration. Its page analysis feature gets you rock in rolling with Google way earlier than you ever expected. For 2015, this plugin cannot be ignored.
WordPress SEO by Yoast

Jetpack by WordPress

For anyone who is new to this CMS, Jetpack plugin is nothing less than a mentor from heaven. Developed by WordPress itself, it is a combo of over 30 features in one plugin. Jetpack allows easy customization of WordPress themes, provides various content tools and visitor engagement options and helps in improving site performance many times over. For someone who does not want to spend a lot on subscribing to multiple plugins, it is the best choice without a second thought.
Jetpack by WordPress

 WooCommerce by WooThemes

Running an ecommerce website was never as easier as it is now and thanks to WooCommerce by WooThemes. Over 5 million downloads clearly show that this is the plugin that you need to go through 2015. This plugin is very powerful and impressively easy to use that anyone can transform a website into a fully loaded online store in just a few minutes. WooCommerce allows extensive customization to the website allowing a user to align his website to his needs, add payment gateways, shipping methods and lots more.
WooCommerce

BackupBuddy

If the thought of losing your website for good sends chills down your spine, you need the BackupBuddy plugin. Although it is a paid plugin, it ranks way up in Essential WordPress Plugins for 2015 and beyond because of its ease of use and premium quality features. Therefore, whether you are planning to move your website to a new host, you want to migrate your content to a new domain or you just want to create backups of your entire website, BackupBuddy helps you get through like a breeze. Plus, if you have a lot on your table, you can schedule it for automated backups and link it to a cloud storage. In addition, it gives 1GB free cloud storage on subscription and can be used with almost all cloud storage.
BackupBuddy

Buffer, Super Easy Social Media Management:

social mediaWith so many things going on, it is easy to get lost in social media. Buffer can help you with that. It connects various social media platforms with your WordPress website, helps you in queuing your posts ahead of time and gives you detailed insights into your posts how they are doing over time, which is one feature rare to find. You can log in with your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and start sharing within minutes. Like WordPress, it also does not require loads of experience in social media and has easy to use features and customizations.

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How to Build Web Forms that Convert Better

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Web forms are an essential component of any website. They can have a significant impact on your conversion rates. Most businesses fail to recognize the value of web forms and their influence on sales. Web form design, layouts, and copy can determine whether you will convert a lead or lose it. In spite of their great influence, most businesses rarely test or change their forms and this makes it difficult for them to improve their conversation rates. There are certain aspects that a business needs to keep in mind when designing forms.

Design Short Forms

simple email formA short form will offer better conversion compared to a long one. Less is more when it comes to designing a web form. Use a minimum number of fields to motivate the user to sign up. In most situations, all you need is an email address. Eliminate all the optional fields on the form. You do not have to ask for all the data that you require immediately. Get the most important data and then contact the user for any additional information you need. In ideal situations, you should have a maximum of five fields. If you are designing just an email form, most probably all that you need is a message field and the user’s email address.

Offer Value

It is essential to consider the value that you offer to the user to motivate them to fill the form. Most users want to know what is in it for them. Offer them something valuable on the form to get the users’ contact information. You have to give in order to get. The value can be a free tutorial, guide, or consult depending on your business.

Create Trust

html form sampleThe user has to trust you before they offer their personal information. You have to inform them about the intended use of the data. People like to feel that they are in control. Users will not fill up the form if they do not know how you will use the data. A privacy policy can also help to create trust. Reduce their fear by letting them know that their personal details will not be shared. Inform them that their privacy is guaranteed. Avoid using the word spam in your privacy policy. This makes the user associate your form with spam mail and discourages them from signing up. Also see:
Usability Tips Based on Research

Meet Expectations

Users often have certain expectations before they fill out a web form. If you set up expectations in your web content, you need to meet them. Give your users something they expect to drive conversations. If began a campaign to help users find reliable professionals in your business field, the web form should highlight this.

Clarity

Web form design has to focus on clarity. You have to be clear about the information that you require from the user. Avoid being vague or including misleading information on the form. The user should not have to “over-think” when filling in the form. It has to be a simple process and this is only possible if the form is clear. Include some explanatory text in a field to clarify what you need. This will eliminate any indecision in the user.

Web form design has to be well thought out if you want to convert better. Think about the information you require and your users then come up with a simple and clear design.
[form image by secretSWC , vandelaydesign]

Hosting A Website In XAMPP

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xampp

XAMPP is a “free and open source cross-platform web server solution package” that makes it very easy to create a web server on your local machine. It is available for various Unix flavors, and for Windows, which is the version we will look at in this article.

Installing and running Xampp

xampp control panel Installing Xampp is a straightforward process.(Link to: XAMPP for windows) You just download the executable file and run it. All you need to do is specify where you want Xampp to install. If you accept the default installation, Xampp will install an Apache server, PHP, MySQL and PHPMyAdmin on your computer.

Before you can run the Apache server, you will need to make two small changes to the configuration. The default port that Xampp installs is port 80, and you need to change this to another value, for example 8000. Use a text editor to open the file c:\xampp\apache\conf\httpd.conf. Locate the line Listen 80 and change it to Listen 8000. Next, locate the line ServerName localhost:80 and change the 80 to 8000. Save the file.

In the Xampp root folder, there will be a file named xampp-control.exe. Double click this to open the control screen. Click the Start button for the Apache server. In your browser address bar, type in http://localhost:8000/ and you should see a message congratulating you on your successful installation.

Testing your website

Set up a folder, let’s say “mysite.com” in c:\xampp\htdocs, so you now have c:\xampp\htdocs\mysite.com. Copy all your web pages in here. Assuming you have an index.html file in the folder, typing http://localhost:8000/mysite.com in your browser will bring up your home page.

Going public

This is where it gets tricky. You will need your ISP allocated IP address, and the IP address, username and password for your router. Access your router by typing its IP address into your browser. You have to unblock port 8000, and how you do so depends on what router you are using. Next, go back to edit httpd.conf and change ServerName localhost:8000, replacing localhost with your IP address.

Problems using your local XAMPP for hosting your websites

You now know the basics of how to host website in xampp, but setting up your machine as a web server is fraught with problems. These are just some things to be aware of:

  1. Security is a prime concern, since you are letting the whole world access your computer.
  2. The outside world has to access your site using your IP address, unless you pay for a domain name to be associated with it.
  3. ISPs often allocate different IP addresses each time you login. Every time that happens your website will be unavailable until you reconfigure.
  4. Data, images, files etc. must be uploaded from your computer. Most ISPs are optimized for downloading, and upload speeds are very, very slow.
  5. You have to leave your PC on all the time. When your PC is down, so is your website.

The cost of running your PC 24/7, of associating a domain name with your IP address, and of putting backups in place will probably exceed the cost of using a hosting service. The time you spend poring over logs, and checking that everything is running fine may not justify the savings of having your own web server.