Wednesday, February 1, 2017 by Kristen HicksOn February 12, many of the world’s greatest musicians will gather to be honored for their craft. Many of those musicians aren’t just good at music though; they (and their marketing teams) have built websites that offer great examples of how to do web marketing well. To honor their skills at another type of craft, we at HostGator have decided to provide our own awards to Grammy nominees based on the marketing savvy on display on their websites. Without further ado, here are 2017’s winners of the Snappys.
Best Landing Page
Winner: Lukas GrahamA good landing page is focused on trying to get visitors to do one specific thing. That means the action you want your visitors to take should be clear, the case for doing so briefly made, and the page designed to minimize distractions. People who navigate to Lukas Graham’s website are hit with a page that is a perfect case study in all the best practices of a good landing page. First, you know right away what action this page wants you to take: Sign up. Then, they sum up in just a few words what you get when you do so: exclusive updates and special offers. Other than those words and the sign up box, the only other thing on the page is the small link in the top right to enter the main website. The page checks all the boxes for a high-converting, well-designed landing page.
Most Intuitive Web Design
Winner: DrakeYou want anybody landing on your website to be able to find whatever they’re looking for easily and quickly. Drake’s website has a simple, clean design that puts all the navigation options front and center (well, to the left) where any visitor can find them. All the information you could need is right there in the left-hand menu. Our only complaint about Drake’s website: he falls prey to one of our top ten homepage mistakes by including an autoplay video.
Most Unique Web Layout
Winner: RihannaPart of the appeal of a pop star like Rihanna is that she’s always bringing something new and fresh to the scene. In her website, as in her songs and style, Rihanna doesn’t bother with the conventional. She does something entirely different. While she keeps the left-hand menu for intuitive navigation, the rest of Rihanna’s home page provides a unique visual layout that looks great and allows users to navigate the site via images. When you scroll over each image, you get a little more information to help you decide whether or not to click. In spite of being different than the design choices commonly used on websites, Rihanna’s layout is easy for visitors to figure out and it looks good.
Best Website Visuals
Winner: Sturgill SimpsonSturgill Simpson’s website has a distinct illustration style that immediately gives the website character and provides a visual theme that ties back to the artist’s album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. The whole website keeps up the visual style, making it thematically resonant and attractive throughout.
Best Website Photography
Winner: BeyoncéWhile Simpson does a great job with illustrations, Beyoncé is the queen of great photography. Her website’s design centers on beautiful photos of Queen Bey herself, her costumes, her performances and any other great visual mementos she chooses to share with her followers. When you photograph like Beyoncé does, why not make that the centerpiece of your website? For bonus points, her website also has a whole section, #Beygood, devoted to highlighting the singer’s philanthropic efforts and actions fans can take to do good.
Best Website Animation
Winner: Anderson PaakSome basic animation turns a colorful, alluring image into something you can hardly take your eyes off of, in spite of its simplicity. For a cool touch, the animation on Anderson Paak’s home page is even slightly interactive. On top of the neat effect the animation has, the page manages to clearly communicate the main thing it wants every visitor to know: where to buy the artist’s music.
Best Mobile Site
Winner: AdeleWith nearly 60% of all searches now happening on mobile devices, no website can afford not to have a mobile friendly version. Adele’s website works great on mobile. It’s visual, the CTA buttons are all big enough to see clearly and click comfortably on a mobile device, and you can scroll down to see your different options.
Best WebsiteJust as the Grammys do, we’ve left the most important category for last. With so many websites to choose from, all of which show different strengths, this isn’t an easy category to choose a winner in, but decisions must be made. For 2017, our choice for Best Website from a Grammy contender goes to….
Winner: Sturgill SimpsonThe illustrations on the website look great, they tie into the album’s theme, and the website checks a lot of important marketing boxes. The main page has clear CTAs: The navigation options are clear and intuitive: Every page has a CTA to sign up for email updates at the bottom: And it’s optimized for mobile:
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 by Amelia WillsonToday we're proud to announce the winners of the HostGator Small Business Scholarship. Of nearly 100 applicants from colleges across the nation, three winners were chosen to receive $1,500 in scholarship funds to help pay for their education expenses such as tuition, fees, books and on-campus room and board. We launched our scholarship program in May of last year. As a leading provider of web hosting and related services for small businesses, we wanted to provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs and tech professionals to share their ideas for advancing the future of small business development. The following three students were selected by HostGator staff based on their essay response to the question, “What is the biggest tech challenge facing small businesses today, and what is your proposed solution?”
- Logan Miller, an undergraduate student at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, discussed the uphill battle many local businesses face when trying to compete with large national businesses in online search results. He suggested small businesses come together to develop a mobile app that would enable business owners to network with each other and make it easier for consumers to shop local.
- Chelsea Sumner, an undergraduate student at Wagner College’s Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing, recounted the steep online marketing learning curve she faced when founding her small business. Her solutions included rate-based advertising determined by business tenure and more educational programs for small business owners surrounding online search marketing and business negotiations.
- Raquel Solares, graduate student at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, also highlighted the disadvantages small businesses face when it comes to budgeting for Search Engine Optimization and paid Google advertising. She proposed a new section on the right-hand side of Google search results that would be dedicated exclusively to small business listings.
HostGator Small Business Scholarship Winning EssaysWhat is the biggest tech challenge facing small businesses today, and what is your proposed solution?
Logan MillerSchool of Sustainability, Arizona State University [caption id="attachment_15936" align="alignright" width="300"] Logan Miller[/caption] In this rapidly evolving world of tech and social media, small businesses find themselves out of place. No longer are traditional forms of advertising such as TV and radio ads effective. Even a well-designed, money-intensive website proves to be lackluster when it comes to attracting new customers, especially younger generations. In today’s economy, word is spread via social media. Whether that is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, the world sees trends through these outlets. Rather than focusing on promoting links on Google or ceaselessly renovating their webpages, small businesses should turn to private partnership networking apps. The value of private partnerships can be seen in many places. For example, in Tucson, Arizona, several downtown businesses collaborated after the Great Recession to revitalize the downtown area. In promoting and networking with each other, businesses such as the Rialto Theatre and Club Congress brought in new customers and helped spur economic recovery in a hurting economy. Now, the first step in promoting these private partnerships, wherein small, local businesses promote each other, is to display these partnerships and the services or goods these businesses offer in a clear and concise way. This can be done simply through an app! Imagine you’re traveling to a new city, and you want to find a local bookstore. You go into your phone, download said app, enter the locality you’re visiting and voila! A listing of local businesses in the region pops up. What’s even better is that the stores themselves offer up suggestions for other businesses customers might enjoy or need. One possible downfall for this plan is the cost of developing the app. Many small businesses are already strapped for the cash and manpower needed for a project such as this. However, there is a rather simple and innovative solution. Who is spearheading new development in tech while writing the rules of social media? The youth. In partnering with local schools, small businesses would be able to capitalize on the technological prowess of the youth. Many schools already have Career and Technical Education programs in place to provide students with real world job experience. Auto repair and biotechnology are taught in schools, and since the technological sector is one of the fastest growing, most profitable industries in the world it would make perfect sense to provide students hands-on, real world experience in that job market. The development of this networking app will serve several purposes. It will provide local businesses for an easily-accessible display for their businesses, attracting customers through the conveniency of their phones. Secondly, it will provide local students hands-on, readily applicable job experience while possibly opening them up to internships or job opportunities with the businesses they are working with. Furthermore, the app’s creation will spur connectivity between local businesses, helping them to organize together to prevent large-scale, national chains from out-competing them. Finally, by partnering with local schools, local businesses will help spread their names throughout the community in which they reside. Word of mouth is still important today, especially in the age of social media. By integrating themselves with the students designing the app, their parents, and the teachers, the businesses will greatly expand their customer base.
Chelsea SumnerWagner College, Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing A year ago, if someone were to ask me if I wanted to go to a room escape, my first question would be: What’s that? To which this person would respond something to the extent of: It’s a room where you and a group have sixty minutes to try and escape -- At this point in the conversation, if you were to slice my brain in half you would probably only find words like escape and stuck and panic nestled within every sulci. I am sure that many would share these sentiments that I once had. Before doing my first room escape, the prospect of being locked in a room did not sound like an ideal Friday night. Fast-forward to just a few months ago and I can be found painting blue and orange fluorescent paint on dozens of fake flowers to use as decoration for an awesome new escape room. When I was helping create the room, I had no idea how difficult and expensive online advertising would be. As a small business with a new brand and no followers, we had to take on the task that all new small businesses have to tackle: finding customers. Although I am a nursing student, I never considered myself illiterate in the world of business --At least not until I became part of a team that started a small business. My great-grandfather emigrated to the United States from Armenia and started his own business. Watching my mother and her entire family be involved in a business made me feel prepared to take on my own. I quickly learned that starting a new business was a task I did not know anything about. In 2016 online advertising is a huge tech challenge that small businesses have to face because it is absolutely necessary for success. Virtually every industry relies on some sort of online advertising or online presence and many small businesses are quick to get their name out there in any way possible. Naively, I presumed that online advertisement would simply consist of social media venues, a website for the business, coupon sites and business rating sites. I quickly learned that this was a huge tech challenge for our new business. Since every business is essentially different, there is no “how to” guide when it comes to online marketing. The first task was to create a website and learning about keywords. That is, trying to get your site to pop up when a Google user searches anything remotely related to your business. The second task was much more daunting than we had ever expected. With one popular site, we signed a deal that would charge us two dollars every time someone clicked our advertisement. Unfortunately we did not read the fine print and the price said that it was “subject to change”, and of course we saw a steady increase before cancelling the deal. We were so excited, and somewhat desperate, to get started in online advertisement that we were not cautious. In this case, it was our fault for not reading the small print and it was a lesson well learned. In our next advertisement deal, we negotiated percentages with the site and actually ended up with a better deal. Through trial and error, we were able to work through this tech challenge. A proposed solution to this tech challenge could be creating online advertising tools and deals specifically priced at the age of the business. For example, a business that has been opened only one month could be quoted differently than a business that has been open for two years. This gives new small businesses a chance to get on their feet before paying a fortune in advertising. A less costly and more reasonable solution would be to educate small business owners on how to negotiate in online advertising and how to use keywords so potential customers are able to find the business on search engines.
Raquel SolaresArizona State University, Thunderbird School of Global Management It seems as though local small businesses are being replaced by standardized chain businesses at a rapid rate. Even worse, finding an organic search on a search engine for small businesses can be difficult or next to impossible. This is worrisome for those small business owners looking to expand their clientele. Small businesses are important to our economy and they need to be a priority when considering new methods of advertising, especially with the current US consumers’ reliance on technology. Small businesses have shown to be important for driving economic growth. According to The Washington Post, during the US economic downfall of 2009, entrepreneurship decreased, however, it has yet to recover to post 2009 rates. Even more alarming is, since 2008, more businesses are exiting than entering business. Studies have shown that young businesses are important for creating net new jobs in the US. This job creation feeds the economy through job recipients becoming consumers, returning money to businesses and continuing the economic cycle. Due to paid advertisements, larger businesses can afford to promote their businesses more effectively. Larger business can afford to pay for more time for SEO experts to work on their sites and make sure organic searches remain at the top level. All the while, small business owners may have to compete with less desirable search terms when receiving work done by SEO experts, due to pricing and inability to penetrate typical searches effectively. While working at a hosting company, I frequently experienced customers wanting a higher ranking on Google. After discussing their type of business, the investment in SEO, the cost, and the lengthy amount of time it would take to increase the ranking, the small business owners usually felt discouraged. For some business owners, it is financially impossible to compete on the online platform with the big players in their industry. (Due to differences in industry, some businesses must pay substantially more because of higher competition) Redesigning a search platform (preferably Google) to include small businesses as a priority ranking will help the economy grow. It will give local small businesses a new platform to compete on rather than fighting a losing battle against chain businesses. Currently after a search is done in Google, the right side of the browser screen is completely blank which leaves plenty of space for a local small business section. With growing reliance on organic searches, small business owners need a platform where they have the ability to compete appropriately. We'll be announcing our next scholarship in early 2017. Subscribe to our blog to be the first to know!
Thursday, December 8, 2016 by Amelia WillsonThe holidays are one of those unique times of year where we spend a lot of our time shopping for ourselves and those close to us, but we also donate our time volunteering to causes we care about and people we may never meet. At HostGator, things are no different. Our team has been up to some pretty impressive volunteering work lately, if we do say so ourselves. Check it out...
Local Food Drives in NovemberLast month, our Houston and Austin offices organized food drives for our local food banks, Houston Food Bank and Central Texas Food Bank. To make it fun, we split the offices up into teams. A little competition never hurt anyone, right? In Austin, eight teams donated food items to the Central Texas Food Bank. Our total donation came to 532 pounds! According to the Central Texas Food Bank, that equals...
532 pounds of food = 444 meals!Even better, the winning purple team chose to forego their prize of unlimited gloating and an exclusive pizza party to donate the $250 budget to the Central Texas Food Bank, which is another 2,000 meals! Thanks to all of our generous employees who donated to families in need, and especially to the winners of the purple team: Robin, Robert, John, Guadalupe, Thomas, John, Aspen, Thomas, Jeremy, Brandon, Lindsay, Gary, Ross, Bajram, Tom, Rowina, David, Michael, Nicholas, Xaviar, Kaneko, Joseph, Morgan, Jonathan, and Amy! Take a look at the pictures below:
Clothing and Toy Donations in DecemberThe November food drive was just the beginning. We had caught the volunteering bug! Last week, HostGator staff teamed up with some of our fellow colleagues at Endurance International Group to volunteer at Operation Blue Santa. We spent an afternoon packing toys and food donations for Austin families in need. Next up, we're collecting donations for Toys for Tots and Front Steps, an organization which provides clothing to homeless living under the I-35 bridge in Austin. To learn more about these non-profits and how you can help, please visit one of the links below:
- Houston Food Bank
- Central Texas Food Bank
- Blue Santa
- Toys for Tots
- Austin Resource Center for the Homeless
Thursday, November 17, 2016 by Amelia WillsonHave you ever been typing away, had your fingers slip on your keyboard, and stumbled upon a new trick or keyboard shortcut? These happy accidents are one way people find easter eggs in websites, software, or video games. Now Easter eggs have become so well-known, that people regularly look for them. One of the most popular ways to find them is by using the Konami Code.
What Is The Konami Code?In case you don’t know, the Konami Code made its debut in the 1985 Nintendo arcade game Gradius. Entering the code, which is up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, gives the player a boost of power-ups or some kind of bonus. The guy who invented it, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, was in charge of developing and testing the game. The only problem was, he wasn’t any good at playing it. So he created something that would be easy to remember and give him power-ups so he could continue playing and testing. The Konami Code is legendary even today, and the fun has extended from the video game console to the desktop computer, with many websites revealing a song, a free download, or a funny redesign of the page upon entering the code. Mashable has a list of their favorites, and you can view a complete list of all websites that feature the code on KonamiCodeSites.com.
HostGator Hides An Easter EggWe know a lot of you love digging into code and are experienced gamers, so we at HostGator felt it was about time we hid an easter egg on our own site. Kyler Patterson from our Marketing team joined up with Isaac Acuna from our Customer Experience team and they hid an easter egg on the registration page of our site. They figure it would be fun to have the Konami Code activate a surprise 80% discount for one lucky visitor. You may have seen Snappy in his Easter Bunny garb before… so we knew he’d approve of us hiding some eggs on the site. They deployed the code on June 21st and started to wait. When would someone discover it?
The Egg Is FoundOne day in early August, Andrew Bonar, founder of EmailExpert.org, was looking to purchase a reseller hosting package. How did he know to look for it? Andrew explains, “I found it as a result of poring over your code. I was trying to identify how you verified and applied your discount vouchers quickly and seamlessly without a page refresh and how that then got applied to the package choices.” After he selected his hosting package and added it to his cart, he continued playing around. Finally, he decided to try the Konami Code. The next thing he knew, this popped up on his screen: Bonar admits he was surprised it wasn’t a gimmick. “I was not certain it would be honored and half expected an email advising the offer was not applicable due to whatever series of terms and conditions. Had I been more confident I may well have taken the offer up on a multiyear basis!” [bctt tweet="Congratulations to @AndrewBonar on finding the @HostGator Konami Code Easter Egg!" username="hostgator"]
The Hunt Continues… Will You Find The Next Easter Egg?Where will the next Easter Egg be? Will it be on our checkout page again? Or maybe hiding on our dedicated server page? Maybe it will only be accessible to current customers in cPanel. It is up to you to find out...