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  • What’s a Progressive Web App, and Does Your Site Need One?

    Monday, May 21, 2018 by
    progressive web apps

    Why So Many Sites Are Building Progressive Web Apps

    Remember a couple of years ago when everyone was telling site owners to implement responsive design for smartphone users? Responsive design still matters, but the mobile-usability goalposts are moving toward progressive web apps (PWAs). register domain name

    What are PWAs?

    PWAs occupy the space between desktopssites with responsive mobile display and full-blown mobile apps that users have to download and install. PWAs load fast, get right to the point, use minimal data, work offline, send push notifications and put icons on users' homescreens, all without the development investment in an app. Is a PWA right for your site? If so, how can you build one? Let's take a look. Google has the definitive list of PWA criteria, but in very simple terms, PWAs are web sites that act like apps. PWAs are at least twice as fast as responsive websites, which means that even if you have a responsive template to make your site as mobile-friendly as possible, a progressive web app may still offer some specific advantages, depending on what your site does and what your goals are.  

    What are the advantages of PWAs?

    Progressive web apps can benefit retailers, information providers, NGOs, and their users.  

    1. PWAs can boost sales

    Many retailers who add PWAs report mobile sales growth, because PWAs help overcome some of the issues that cause mobile shoppers to bail out before buying, such as difficult navigation, slow load times, and fussy data-entry at checkout. After launching its progressive web app, cosmetics company Lancome saw a 17% increase in mobile revenue in the US market. AliExpress, the China-based merchant marketplace, saw conversion rates rise by 104% after its PWA went live. Clearly, customers are happy to make purchases on their phones as long as the process is easy, and PWAs can make it so.

    2. PWAs load fast and use less data

    Most smartphone users will wait 3 seconds tops for your site to load. After that, they're gone. A PWA speeds up load times, which is good for all users, whether they're impatient city dwellers who are multitasking at top speed or people in rural, backcountry, or developing areas who want to make the most of their limited connectivity. A good non-retail example of a PWA is the UN's ReliefWeb. The huge humanitarian-crisis information portal has a full site (below, left) with maps, slideshows, a Twitter feed, and more. The site loads fast for people using the type of internet connection common in major Western cities. But for aid workers in remote locations and disaster zones, it's not as useful as ReliefWeb's “lite” site (below, right), which debuted in December 2017. The PWA distills the content to easy-to-scroll headlines and a small navigation menu.
    progressive web app vs regular websiteprogressive web app example website</center

    3. PWAs work offline

    Your visitors can pin your site to their smartphone homescreens, and every page on a PWA will load while the user's device is in airplane mode. If you want your site visitors to be able to scroll your archives—or browse your store—even when they're on an actual plane, in a tunnel, or without internet access for any reason, a PWA may be the way to go. All that said, if you run a site that doesn't sell products or serve people in low-bandwidth areas, and your mobile site already loads fast and is easy to navigate, you may not strictly need a PWA. But because PWAs are easier to make than an app, you might want to have one anyway.  

    How can you build a PWA for your site?

    The good news for site owners who aren't code-savvy is that there's a WordPress plugin for PWAs. After searching in vain for easy PWA conversion options for my own site, which uses WordPress on the Genesis framework, I tried the free version of WordPress Mobile Pack, which comes with a free theme and takes just a few minutes to set up. After I activated the plugin and chose the most current version of the Obliq theme, my desktop site still displayed with the Enterprise theme I've had for a couple of years, while the Obliq theme displayed on my phone's browser. In the plugin's quick start menu on my WordPress dashboard, I set the PWA to display only to me while I played around with the settings. I had the option to upload an icon for users' homescreens, and I picked a color scheme that I liked. The only thing I wasn't sold on in the free version of WordPress Mobile Pack was the Obliq theme, which I think would work better for an image-heavy site than a text-heavy one like mine. The developer offers some paid themes that I think would better showcase my content, and I'll probably end up going with one of those once I'm ready to take my PWA live.  

    What if you want to build your own PWA without using a WordPress plug-in?

    Here are a few resources to get you started.
    • Google Codelab has an 8-step tutorial to walk developers through the basics of converting an “old-timey” desktop website to a PWA.
    • Google's Baseline Progressive Web App Checklist includes some elements that even non-programmers can tackle, like checking the PWA's mobile-friendliness and verifying that the site is served over HTTPS, along with more advanced tasks like installing a service worker and a web app manifest.
    • Once you've met the baseline requirements, there are more than 20 elements on the Exemplary Progressive Web App Checklist, including schema markup, cache-first networking, credential management for sites that require users to log in, and a lot of UI/UX elements.
    • When you're done, you can audit your PWA with Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools to see what works and what needs to be tweaked.
      Adding a PWA to your site can be the work of a few minutes or a big project, depending on whether you use a plugin or get into your site's code. Either way, the time investment can pay off in terms of more sales, better accessibility for users with intermittent or slow connections, and a better mobile user experience.
  • HTTPS for WordPress: Why and How to Add It To Your Site

    Friday, May 18, 2018 by
    https for wordpress

    HTTPS for Your WordPress Site

    Switching your site over to HTTPS is important in a lot of ways. It’ll not only improve your search engine rankings, but it’ll encrypt any data that’s being transferred from your user’s browser to your server. Overall, you’ll improve your site’s security, trustworthiness, and make your website look good in the eyes of Google. Below we’ll look at why you’ll want to add HTTPS to your WordPress site and offer a series of steps to help simplify the process.  

    What is HTTPS?

    You’ve probably heard of HTTPS, but you’re still not quite sure what it is. For starters, it’s readily visible on most larger websites. You’ll see that their URLs start with “https://“ instead of the standard “http://“. It also includes a small padlock next to the URL as well, which means the site is secure. PayPal SSL Certificate HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure and utilizes an SSL certification to establish a secure connection between a user’s web browser and your server. Any information that gets exchanged over this connection is encrypted. This data encryption makes it much more difficult for people to read, or translate, any of the information that might get intercepted over the connection.  

    How HTTPS Can Benefit Your WordPress Site

    You aren’t required to move your site to HTTPS, but it does come with some benefits that might make switching a good idea.
    • Secures sensitive information. If your site handles credit card information or other potentially compromising information, then moving your site to HTTPS is a necessity.
    • Makes your site trustworthy. Moving to HTTPS will not only secure the transfer of information, but it will help make users feel safe and trust that your website is authentic, and you’re actually who you claim to be.
    • Improves your SEO. Having an SSL certificate is a Google ranking factor. It probably won’t give your rankings a huge push, but when it comes to SEO every bit helps.
    It seems that HTTPS is going to be the future of the web. By moving to HTTPS sooner rather than later will help to establish you as the go-to authority in your space, instead of merely waiting and playing catch up. HostGator SSL Certificate

    How to Move Your WordPress Site to HTTPS

    Moving your current WordPress site to HTTPS is pretty straightforward. All you need is an SSL certificate, a host that supports SSL (like HostGator!), and a few plugins to help with URL migration. Below we outline the steps you need to take to move your site from HTTP to HTTPS.  

    1. Install Your SSL Certificate

    The first thing you’ll need to make the switch to HTTPS is an SSL certificate. Your host may provide one for free with your hosting package, or you might be able to purchase or get a free SSL certificate through them. If not, a solid choice is Let’s Encrypt. They’re one of the most popular SSL certificate providers. However, before you purchase an SSL certificate from a third-party source make sure that it’s supported by your host. The process of installing the SSL certificate will depend upon your host, but if your host is using the standard cPanel, then you can install the certificate through your dashboard.

    2. Move Your URLs to HTTPS

    To complete the installation there are a few issues you’ll need to fix. Namely, you’ll need to migrate any internal URLs and links to HTTPS instead of HTTP. One of the easiest ways to do this is to install a plugin called Really Simple SSL. This plugin will update the URL of your site within your site settings and it’ll add a 301 redirect from all the HTTP pages and media to the new HTTPS URL. All you have to do is install and activate this plugin and it’ll get to work adjusting your site’s settings.  

    3. Verify Your Certificate is Active

    With your certificate installed and the Really Simple SSL plugin active, it’s time to verify that everything you did actually worked. To check your site open up your web browser and type in the HTTP version of your website. You should then see this redirect to the HTTPS version of your site. Your new URL should have a green padlock next to it and your URL will read “https://“. Finally, the last thing you’ll want to do is update any offsite link to your new HTTPS URL. The redirect plugin above will take care of this for you. But, you’ll want to adjust any of the links that are in your direct control, such as your social media profiles.   Moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS can be very advantageous. Hopefully, the post above has helped you understand what HTTPS actually is, and how you can move your WordPress site to HTTPS. HostGator customers can add SSL certificates to their site here.
  • Inspirational Quotes about Blogging, Websites, and Online Entrepreneurship

    Thursday, May 10, 2018 by
    inspirational quotes for bloggers website owners

    Inspirational Quotes for Bloggers and Online Entrepreneurs

    “The right quote can inspire people to change their ways.” – Zig Ziglar Whether you're starting your own blog, a new website, or an online store, there are going to be some rough patches, and at times it can be hard to stay motivated. Prevent writer's block. Stop spinning your wheels. And get going! Kick your motivation into high gear with some of our favorite quotes for bloggers, entrepreneurs, and online store owners. Create Your Blog

    Inspirational Quotes for Bloggers

    • "Write what you know." – Mark Twain
    • "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." – John D. Rockefeller
    • "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." – Sir Winston Churchill
    • "Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in business at all times." – John Gerzema
    • "These days, people want to learn before they buy, be educated instead of pitched." – Brian Clark
    • "An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally." – Seth Godin
    • "The paradox is the more info you give away, the more people will buy what you have to give." – Brian Clark
    • "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." – Albert Einstein
    • "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." – Benjamin Franklin
    • "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." – Herman Melville
    • "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." – Walt Disney
    • "If you can learn something new every day, you can teach something new every day." – Martha Stewart
    • "Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants." – Jonathan Perelman
    • "Content is anything that adds value to the reader's life." – Avinash Kaughik
    • "Don't focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that's great for your readers." – Brian Clark
    • "Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts." – Larry L. King
    • "When you brand yourself properly, the competition becomes irrelevant." – Dan Schawbel
    • "If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they'll do business with you." – Zig Ziglar
    • "Content: there is no easy button." – Scott Abel
    • “Create content that teaches. You can’t give up. You need to be consistently awesome.” – Neil Patel
    • "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." – Steve Jobs

    Inspirational Quotes for Online Entrepreneurs

    • "Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours per week." – Lori Greiner
    • "If you're looking for the next best thing, and you're looking where everyone else is, you're looking in the wrong place." – Mark Cuban
    • "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." – Bill Gates
    • "Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles." – Steve Jobs
    • "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." – Vidal Sassoon
    • "The challenge with being an initiator of projects is that you are never, ever done." – Seth Godin
    • "Any idea is only as valuable as its ability to solve a problem." – Sally Hogshead
    • "A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well." – Jeff Bezos
    • "Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton
    • “Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.” – Dennis Waitley
    • “Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand and the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.” – Henry Ford
    • “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer. He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.” – Robert L. Schwartz
    • "Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers." – Seth Godin
    • "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." – Albert Einstein
    • “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos
    • "Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard." – Guy Kawasaki
    • "A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is - it is what consumers tell each other it is." – Scott Cook
    • "No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit." – Andrew Carnegie
    • "Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising." – Milton Hershey
    • “I don’t create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done.” – Elon Musk
    • “The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.” – Seth Godin
    • “You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die.” – Jack Ma
    • “In every success story, you will find someone who has made a courageous decision.” – Peter F. Drucker
    • “My best advice to entrepreneurs is this: Forget about making mistakes, just do it.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
    • "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." – Henry Ford

    Inspirational Quotes for E-Commerce Site Owners

    • "Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend." – Mark Zuckerberg
    • “You can’t wait for customers to come to you. You have to figure out where they are, go there and drag them back to your store.” – Paul Graham
    • “E-commerce leaders will have to keep with these changes (and others) to survive and stay ahead.” – Linda Bustos
    • “Learn as many mistakes about what not to do while your business or product is small” – Daymond John
    • “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why do you it.” – Simon Sinek
    • “In e-commerce, your prices have to be better because the consumer has to take a leap of faith in your product.” – Ashton Kutcher
    • “Don’t obsess over data as a tool, obsess about the future.” – Jeff Beaver
    • “You can have an assertive culture without trampling people’s sprits.” – Jill Layfield
    • “Communications is at the heart of e-commerce and community.” – Meg Whitman
    • “Customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.” – Tony Hsieh
    • “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos
    • “Stop selling, start helping.” – Zig Ziglar
    • “Overall the web is pretty sloppy, but an online store can’t afford to be.” – Paul Graham
    • “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” - Bill Gates
    • “The reason it seems that price is all your customer’s care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.” – Seth Godin
    • “Amazing things will happen when you listen to the consumer.” – Jonathan Mildenhall
      Hopefully, the quotes above will bring you an added dose of inspiration for your new online venture. Any quotes we didn’t mention above? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • 7 Best WordPress Backup Plugins

    Thursday, May 10, 2018 by
    best wordpress backup plugins

    Best WordPress Backup Plugins

    Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time building and tweaking your website, from theme customizations to setting up plugins, creating pages, writing posts, and adding images. What would happen to you if all this data were lost? Would you have a backup to restore from? Or, would you have to do it all over—from scratch? There are plenty of reasons your site can fail, but instead of going into every case of doom, it’s better to be prepared if it ever does happen. If you run a WordPress site, then one of the best things you can do is utilize a WordPress backup plugin. Below we highlight why you’ll want to use a WordPress backup plugin, and offer a handful of plugins to choose from.

    best WordPress hosting

    Why Would I Use a WordPress Backup Plugin?

    Most hosts offer their own backup services (HostGator customers can sign up for CodeGuard here), and although you should take advantage of these, you may want to supplement these backups with backups of your own. A WordPress backup plugin will simplify the backup process so you don’t have to think about it, but there’s always a version of your site you can restore from if need be. Think of a WordPress backup plugin like an insurance policy for your website. You’ll still want to protect your site from hackers, but you’re covered if something happens.  

    7 WordPress Backup Plugins to Consider

    There are dozens of different WordPress backup plugins for you to consider. To simplify your search we’ve highlighted seven of our favorites below.  

    1. VaultPress

    vaultpress VaultPress was founded by Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress. It’s now part of JetPack, and will automatically backup your entire site, media, posts, comments, and dashboard settings included. In order to use this plugin, you’ll need a subscription to Jetpack. The higher level plans can get expensive, but the features and ease of use might make that cost worthwhile. Also included are things like one-click site restore, customer support, backup storage, and malware and virus scans.  

    2. BackupBuddy

    backup buddy BackupBuddy is a very popular and long-running WordPress backup plugin. You can schedule your backups to run on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Plus, you can have those backups automatically go to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace, or even have it emailed to yourself. This plugin is a premium plugin, but you only pay on a yearly basis and you get access to plugin updates, user forums, and even 1GB of backup space.  

    3. BackWPup

    backwpup BackWPup is a very popular and free backup plugin. Its popularity probably comes from how easy this tool is to setup and use. With this plugin, you can create a complete WordPress site backup and have that backup sent to cloud storage, or download it directly to your computer. Plus, restoring your site from a backup is very straightforward with their built-in restoration wizard. There’s also a paid version of this plugin that offers you additional features like site scans and database repair and optimization, and more.  

    4. Duplicator

    duplicator wordpress plugin Duplicator is primarily a site migration and cloning tool, but it can also be used to backup your site as well. The free version of the plugin allows you to manually backup your entire site. Now, the free version isn’t automated, but for sites that don’t change very often, it can be a solid solution. There is a paid version of the plugin, which includes scheduled backups that you can send to cloud storage providers like Amazon S3, Dropbox, or Google Drive.  

    5. UpdraftPlus

    updraftplus UpdraftPlus is a popular and free WordPress plugin. With this plugin, you can create a complete backup of your site to store on your own computer, or via cloud storage, like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Rackspace, and more. You have the ability to created scheduled backups, or even on-demand backups with this plugin. There’s also a premium version of the plugin, which will offer you additional features like migrating or cloning a site, support for multiple sites, premium-level support, and much more.  

    6. BackUpWordPress

    backupwordpress plugin BackUpWordpress is another very popular and free backup plugin. This plugin allows you to schedule automatic backups, so you don’t have to remember to backup your site. It’ll backup your entire site, including all of your site’s file and databases. However, in order to send your backups to a cloud storage provider, you’ll need to purchase an extension.  

    7. Backup & Restore Dropbox

    backup restore dropbox wordpress plugin Like the name suggests Backup & Restore Dropbox will backup your WordPress site and send that backup to Dropbox. If you currently use Dropbox as your preferred cloud storage provider, then this is a great option. All of the backups are fully automated; all you have to do is authorize the connection to your Dropbox account. By using a WordPress backup plugin you’re safeguarding your site in case your data is lost, or you need to restore your site to a previous version. It’s always a good idea to have multiple fail-safes in place, from host backups to additional backups from a WordPress plugin.  

    Back Up Your WordPress Site

    Any of the plugins above will be a great option to provide you with consistent, high-quality backups. For added security and peace of mind, make sure you sign up for a backup service through your web host. HostGator customers can schedule daily site backups through CodeGuard.
  • WP Gutenberg as a Site Builder: Is It the Right Choice for Building Your Site?

    Monday, May 7, 2018 by
    wp gutenberg site builder

    WordPress Gutenberg as a Site Builder: Is It the Right Choice for Your Site?

    The WordPress Gutenberg update will change how pages and posts are created within WordPress. Gutenberg will add page-builder functionality to the backend of every WordPress site. The overarching goal is to simplify and improve the content creation experience. The current rollout has been slow, and Gutenberg currently exists in plugin form, but one thing is for sure: The release of Gutenberg will change how we build sites and create content within WordPress. Below we look at the role that Gutenberg will play in building out your website, so you can decide if going with WP Gutenberg is going to be the right choice for your new project. HostGator Website Builder

    What is Gutenberg?

    The purpose of the Gutenberg rollout is to make adding rich content to WordPress a simple and enjoyable process. Think of it as a way to quickly build page layouts and media-rich pages, instead of just creating your standard blog post. Instead of using custom HTML within the visual editor you’ll be using content blocks to create more advanced layouts. Overall, the Gutenberg editor makes writing much simpler and distraction free (which is a huge plus). You can then rearrange and add various content blocks to either change the style and layout of the page or include embeds like YouTube videos or songs from Soundcloud. Essentially, with Gutenberg, you’ll get access to more features and a more powerful editor that’ll give you more control over the end result of your content.  

    How Will Gutenberg Help Me Build My Site?

    The current process for building out a WordPress site is installing the core WordPress CMS, and then customizing that setup with themes, plugins, and custom HTML. There’s a lot of talk that the Gutenberg update will make certain themes, plugins, and integrated WordPress page builders obsolete. After all, a lot of the problems these tools solve will now be incorporated directly into the WordPress core. Gutenberg will allow you to customize your posts and pages with a dark and drop editor. You’ll be using content blocks to build media-rich pages, instead of just writing a wall of text and customizing your pages with shortcodes and HTML. The overarching goal is to make rich content creation fun and easy. As it currently stands, existing themes and plugins will need to adapt and integrate with the new WP Gutenberg setup. It’s a bit too early to tell just how much the Gutenberg release will affect themes and plugins, but they will need to evolve or become obsolete. Overall, this release will make creating, publishing, and building your site much easier. Think along the lines of creating a site with a drag-and-drop builder, or seamlessly creating rich content on Medium.  

    Is WordPress With Gutenberg the Right Choice for My Site?

    Instead of asking if Gutenberg will act as a solid site builder for my site, you should be asking: is WordPress going to be the right platform for building my site? The Gutenberg release marks a shift in how WordPress will change into the future. Instead of the standard core updates, the WordPress team will now focus on adding additional features to the WordPress core. This will make customizing your site and creating content a much more seamless process overall. If you’re looking to build a content heavy website then it’s hard to find a better solution than WordPress. This will especially be true with the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, which will make the publishing experience similar to Medium (which is stellar). If you’re just trying to build a very simple website with a handful of pages, then you can probably get away with using a simple site builder that doesn’t place such a heavy focus on content creation. WordPress still continues to power 30% of the web, so it’s not going anywhere soon. WordPress still remains a flexible and powerful CMS that allows you to create a content-rich site with ease. The Gutenberg release will make content publishing easier, especially once the kinks have been worked out. While WordPress will continue to remain a great CMS that’s continually focused on creating a backend CMS that makes site building and content creation easier. best WordPress hosting