Website Revisions and Edits?

by sydney.cooke written on
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This particular blog is meant to answer the following questions:

  • What is a round of revisions?
  • What is a round of edits? (same question as above)
  • What is considered an edit for my website?

What is a revision or edit?

In short, this is a change to your website. Depending on the type of website project you have, it can be a little more complicated than that.

If you are using a theme to build your site, changes like text, images, button colors, and simple theme layout replacements are included in scope. If you want changes outside of your selected theme that are not specified by your SOW, these can incur additional costs. This means that if you want a particular section of your website to be arranged or laid out in a way that is not already built into your theme, you are asking for a custom design element which is more than likely outside of your scope of work.

Ask yourself.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are completing a review of website:

  • Does everything look good on desktop?
  • Does everything look good on mobile devices?
  • Have all stakeholders involved reviewed the site?
  • Double check the accuracy of your content (text and images)
  • Are all of the links going to the right place?
  • Is everything functioning and responding the way you’d like?

One of the reasons we provide a style tile at the beginning of each project is to make concrete decisions based on provided visuals for style elements like colors, fonts, button and image styles. Once you approve these elements, changing them during development can be considered out of scope because we do use these as an outline for design.

If we are producing custom designs for your website project, then you have a bit more of a broad stroke for edits. You do need to know how many rounds of changes you have per your contract. This means that if your project manager has sent you your homepage design in XD, each time you submit a list of changes, that counts as a round. We recommend you consolidate all of your feedback and submit at one time so you control your rounds. Typically you will get 2-3 per your project scope.

For design projects in XD, you can submit your edits by clicking on the pin tool (upper right) and then selecting the specific item on the design you want to comment on. Once your project is in development (for all development project types), we ask that you use the feedback tool located in the bottom right of your website. These requests go into a trackable system that allows our team to keep track of your asks and their status internally. If you email us an edit, please note that it is more likely to fall through the cracks!

Why is it important to control your revisions?

For one, we can edit websites all day every day. It is very easy to find a tweak each time you look at it. If there’s not a line indicating the end of the project, your website may never get launched. The purpose of changes, especially past the first go, is to correct anything that is wrong. Not necessarily to make tweaks. Little changes can happen at any time. You want to make sure the website represents your company and brand, that the text is free of errors, typos or placeholder text, and you want to make sure there are no bugs and it displays responsively. We don’t want you to get stuck on minor cosmetics that can be updated at any time.

It also protects the developers and their time. If you were constantly being notified of this here and that there and constantly asked to stop what you were doing to take care of some other related task, not only would it impact your productivity but also just how you feel overall about your work. We want our developers to be able to focus on their projects and give them all of their attention without constant interruption.

Thank you for understanding our policy on edits and revisions! Please contact your project manager if you have any specific questions!

The 6 W’s of Content (And Website isn’t One of Them)

by sydney.cooke written on
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One thing I remember from grade school writing classes are the 5 (make that 6) W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why and the runner-up, How? I recall completing my required essays and asking myself, did I answer these questions?

When it comes to writing your website content, the same questions apply. So harken back to your elementary years and ask yourself:

  • Who is my company?
  • What do we do or what do we sell?
  • Where are we? (Digital or brick and mortar)
  • When are we operating or open for business?
  • Why do we do what we do? (Mission, purpose, story, etc.)
  • And How? How can people get in touch with us, how can they buy, or how do we do what we do, if important.

If you are answering these questions in a straightforward, easy to find manner, then you are providing your visitors with the information they need. If they are not directly communicated on your homepage then they should be easy to find.

Let’s dig.

Let’s go a little bit deeper and answer those questions about who your CLIENT or CUSTOMER is. These questions will help you create a better strategy and understand your audience. 

  • Who is my audience and target client? Who is visiting my site?
  • What does my customer need from me? What solution do I provide them?
  • Where or when does my service or product fall into their own processes or daily lives (depending on B2B or B2C)?
  • Why should our client choose us? Why are we better than our competition?
  • How can I or do I meet their needs? How can I get my visitor’s business? 

More tips…

Some other tips from my essay writing days that are good to still consider:

  • Do not start all your sentences with the same word. For example, We do that… We do this… We don’t…
  • Do not be too wordy. Guide your reader with a call to action.
  • The word “that” is almost always unnecessary.
  • Use active language (instead of passive).
  • And not so much a grammar tool but an SEO tool, think about the keywords people will use to search your business and try to include them as much as possible without being redundant or sounding silly.

A How-To Guide to Wordpress Hosting from GruffyGoat: Part 2

by ScottMarkley written on
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The following article is the second in a series exploring the topic of web hosting—specifically, Wordpress hosting. These articles are designed to help you determine your needs and make the best decision about your hosting solution. 

Part 1 of the series provided a general overview of web hosting, and discussed why you need it and what makes WordPress hosting different. In Part 2 below, we’ll review the different types of hosting services and give you some guidelines for determining the best fit for you. Part 3 will offer some advice on choosing the right WordPress hosting partner.

Do You Need WordPress-specific Hosting?

In part 1, we established that you’ll need hosting for your website, but does that mean you have to find a provider who offers “WordPress hosting?”

The short answer is: No.

WordPress has pretty minimal hosting requirements: PHP version 7 or higher, MYSQL 5.6 or higher -or- MariaDB version 10.1 or greater, and HTTPS support (SSL). Most hosting companies can handle those specifications and host a WordPress site. If they can’t meet all of them, then GruffyGoat recommends not using that particular host.

What makes WordPress-dedicated hosting desirable is that it’s optimized to run WordPress sites, which means that the server script is regularly updated to ensure stability, maintain a positive user experience, and integrate the most recent versions of any plug-ins or security updates. Simply put, quality WordPress hosting makes your WordPress site better.

A lot of the performance improvement of WordPress hosting really depends on the size and scale of your website. In fact, if your site is a small project with limited functionality (such as a personal blog), then you may not need a dedicated external host at all. You can simply host your site through WordPress.com—it’s free and easy to set up an account with them.

If your WordPress website needs to support a business or organization, however, there are a number of good WordPress hosting models available. In addition to free options, the two most commonly employed models are “shared hosting” and “managed hosting,” which we’ll get into below. There are alternative models as well for specialized organizations, but the model that will work best for you will depend largely on your needs, your budget, and your capabilities.

Here’s an overview of the most common WordPress hosting options…

Free WordPress Hosting

There are many free WordPress web hosts available online, but pretty much all of them offset the hosting fee by placing ads and banners on every page of your site. Your tolerance for that will determine if this is a good fit for you. Most businesses will not want to share marketing space with other companies, especially when the content of those external ads is out of your control.

Another downside to free hosting is that, unlike a dedicated hosting provider who charges a fee and has accountability to customers, the free web host is often simply renting excess server space to you. The host might not be that concerned with server performance and security, and their long-term service may not be reliable. Free hosts can (and do) fold up shop without warning, knocking their hosted sites off the internet until the site owners can find new hosts and transfer their files over. 

GruffyGoat does not recommend using free WordPress hosting.

Managed WordPress Hosting

WordPress is a popular platform, so some web hosting providers now offer managed WordPress hosting. With this model, your site not only lives on a WordPress-optimized server, but also benefits from a dedicated technical support team. 

Depending on the terms of your plan, these experienced professionals will monitor your site for performance, keep it secure and updated, maintain regular backups of the data, and even evaluate plug-in compatibility.

Managed WordPress hosting is pretty much hassle-free, which makes it ideal for small- to medium-sized businesses who can afford a higher recurring services fee but  not the operational expense of an in-house IT staff. 

Performance-wise, your managed WordPress site will typically gain…

  • Faster speeds.
  • Improved server-side caching.
  • Superior security with regular server scans and updates.
  • Test sites to preview changes before committing.
  • And a lot more, depending on the plan you select.

The chief downside to managed WordPress hosting is the cost. It is more expensive than shared hosting, with monthly service fees ranging from around $25 for a single site at the low-bandwidth usage end to $100 or more for plans with multiple domains and high bandwidth limits.
GruffyGoat recommends WPEngine for high-quality, affordable managed WordPress hosting.

WordPress VPS Hosting

An alternative to traditional WordPress hosting models, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) partitions a physical server into multiple “virtual” servers, giving you dedicated space for your site with high levels of management and security similar to what you get when you own a private server.

VPS hosting is best for medium-sized businesses with sufficient in-house IT resources to manage the technical requirements. Be advised that it takes a fair amount of technical knowledge to make a VPS solution work on your own. Managed VPS hosting is also available, which is a good option for high-need, low-capability organizations.

WordPress Dedicated Server Hosting

Another alternative hosting model involves leasing a dedicated WordPress server from the hosting provider. Best suited for Enterprise organizations and extremely high-traffic, high functionality corporate sites, a dedicated server gives you and your IT staff full control of the server and site specifications. As with other hosting solutions, there are managed dedicated server services available if you do not employ a system admin or IT staff.

Which to choose?

When selecting the right WordPress hosting solution for your site, you must weigh the options against your needs: speed, reliability, security, maintenance, and cost are just some of the factors unique to your business that should impact your decision.

That’s why evaluating your hosting needs at the beginning of the website process can better inform the design and development phases, and ultimately save you critical time and money by aligning the development of the site to your hosting solution.

If you’re a serious website owner, then free hosting is not a real option; and if you don’t have sufficient budgets and IT resources, then VPN and dedicated server hosting options are probably not for you either. Shared hosting and managed hosting plans tend to be ideal choices for most companies because they are relatively simple to engage and deploy.

The good news is that there are lots of solid, reasonably-priced providers of shared and managed WordPress hosting solutions available. The “bad” news is that you’ll still have to search for one that provides a plan that meets your requirements.

More good news, though! Part 3 of this series will cover what to look for in a reliable web hosting partner.

The following article is the second in a series exploring the topic of web hosting—specifically, Wordpress hosting. These articles are designed to help you determine your needs and make the best decision about your hosting solution. 

Part 1 of the series provided a general overview of web hosting, and discussed why you need it and what makes WordPress hosting different. In Part 2 below, we’ll review the different types of hosting services and give you some guidelines for determining the best fit for you. Part 3 will offer some advice on choosing the right WordPress hosting partner.

Do You Need WordPress-specific Hosting?

In part 1, we established that you’ll need hosting for your website, but does that mean you have to find a provider who offers “WordPress hosting?”

The short answer is: No.

WordPress has pretty minimal hosting requirements: PHP version 7 or higher, MYSQL 5.6 or higher -or- MariaDB version 10.1 or greater, and HTTPS support (SSL). Most hosting companies can handle those specifications and host a WordPress site. If they can’t meet all of them, then GruffyGoat recommends not using that particular host.

What makes WordPress-dedicated hosting desirable is that it’s optimized to run WordPress sites, which means that the server script is regularly updated to ensure stability, maintain a positive user experience, and integrate the most recent versions of any plug-ins or security updates. Simply put, quality WordPress hosting makes your WordPress site better.

A lot of the performance improvement of WordPress hosting really depends on the size and scale of your website. In fact, if your site is a small project with limited functionality (such as a personal blog), then you may not need a dedicated external host at all. You can simply host your site through WordPress.com—it’s free and easy to set up an account with them.

If your WordPress website needs to support a business or organization, however, there are a number of good WordPress hosting models available. In addition to free options, the two most commonly employed models are “shared hosting” and “managed hosting,” which we’ll get into below. There are alternative models as well for specialized organizations, but the model that will work best for you will depend largely on your needs, your budget, and your capabilities.

Here’s an overview of the most common WordPress hosting options…

Free WordPress Hosting

There are many free WordPress web hosts available online, but pretty much all of them offset the hosting fee by placing ads and banners on every page of your site. Your tolerance for that will determine if this is a good fit for you. Most businesses will not want to share marketing space with other companies, especially when the content of those external ads is out of your control.

Another downside to free hosting is that, unlike a dedicated hosting provider who charges a fee and has accountability to customers, the free web host is often simply renting excess server space to you. The host might not be that concerned with server performance and security, and their long-term service may not be reliable. Free hosts can (and do) fold up shop without warning, knocking their hosted sites off the internet until the site owners can find new hosts and transfer their files over. 

GruffyGoat does not recommend using free WordPress hosting.

Managed WordPress Hosting

WordPress is a popular platform, so some web hosting providers now offer managed WordPress hosting. With this model, your site not only lives on a WordPress-optimized server, but also benefits from a dedicated technical support team. 

Depending on the terms of your plan, these experienced professionals will monitor your site for performance, keep it secure and updated, maintain regular backups of the data, and even evaluate plug-in compatibility.

Managed WordPress hosting is pretty much hassle-free, which makes it ideal for small- to medium-sized businesses who can afford a higher recurring services fee but  not the operational expense of an in-house IT staff. 

Performance-wise, your managed WordPress site will typically gain…

  • Faster speeds.
  • Improved server-side caching.
  • Superior security with regular server scans and updates.
  • Test sites to preview changes before committing.
  • And a lot more, depending on the plan you select.

The chief downside to managed WordPress hosting is the cost. It is more expensive than shared hosting, with monthly service fees ranging from around $25 for a single site at the low-bandwidth usage end to $100 or more for plans with multiple domains and high bandwidth limits.
GruffyGoat recommends WPEngine for high-quality, affordable managed WordPress hosting.

WordPress VPS Hosting

An alternative to traditional WordPress hosting models, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) partitions a physical server into multiple “virtual” servers, giving you dedicated space for your site with high levels of management and security similar to what you get when you own a private server.

VPS hosting is best for medium-sized businesses with sufficient in-house IT resources to manage the technical requirements. Be advised that it takes a fair amount of technical knowledge to make a VPS solution work on your own. Managed VPS hosting is also available, which is a good option for high-need, low-capability organizations.

WordPress Dedicated Server Hosting

Another alternative hosting model involves leasing a dedicated WordPress server from the hosting provider. Best suited for Enterprise organizations and extremely high-traffic, high functionality corporate sites, a dedicated server gives you and your IT staff full control of the server and site specifications. As with other hosting solutions, there are managed dedicated server services available if you do not employ a system admin or IT staff.

Which to choose?

When selecting the right WordPress hosting solution for your site, you must weigh the options against your needs: speed, reliability, security, maintenance, and cost are just some of the factors unique to your business that should impact your decision.

That’s why evaluating your hosting needs at the beginning of the website process can better inform the design and development phases, and ultimately save you critical time and money by aligning the development of the site to your hosting solution.

If you’re a serious website owner, then free hosting is not a real option; and if you don’t have sufficient budgets and IT resources, then VPN and dedicated server hosting options are probably not for you either. Shared hosting and managed hosting plans tend to be ideal choices for most companies because they are relatively simple to engage and deploy.

The good news is that there are lots of solid, reasonably-priced providers of shared and managed WordPress hosting solutions available. The “bad” news is that you’ll still have to search for one that provides a plan that meets your requirements.

More good news, though! Part 3 of this series will cover what to look for in a reliable web hosting partner.

A How-To Guide to Wordpress Hosting from GruffyGoat: Part 3

by ScottMarkley written on
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The following article is the third and final entry in a series exploring the topic of WordPress web hosting. The series is designed to help you determine your needs and select the best hosting solution for you. 
Part 1 of the series provided a general overview of web hosting, while Part 2 examined the different types of hosting services, with guidelines for deciding on the right model to handle your site’s objectives. Part 3 below provides some advice for choosing a web host.

Where to Start? Focus on the Basics.

To find the right WordPress hosting provider, you must first know what you’re trying to accomplish with your site. Make a list of your website’s core features and the technical requirements that are critical to its operation. You’ll want to find a provider who can meet all of your requirements.

To narrow your search parameters further, your project team should know the answers to some basic questions about your site needs before approaching potential hosting partners…

Cost 

What is your monthly hosting budget? Is it sufficient to purchase the minimum hosting plan you need to meet your site goals?

This is a situation where you can’t cut corners and hope to get the best results out of your site. If you select a low-cost hosting solution that can’t handle your site’s traffic or support the latest WordPress features, then your site will underperform. 

Many hosting providers also offer promotional discounts for new customers, so be sure you understand when the promotional period ends and what your total costs will be over Year One and beyond. Discuss the terms of rapidly upgrading your account with your provider, should your site’s usage needs increase dramatically.

Performance

How many site visitors do you anticipate each day/week/month/year? How fast will your site pages load for users? What is your tolerance for downtime?

If your host’s servers frequently go down due to technical issues, power outages, or other problems, then you’re paying them to host a site that nobody can use. Reliable hosting providers can provide performance and uptime guarantee in their SLA. Choose a provider with a consistently high uptime percentage (99% or higher), particularly if you require high levels of performance.

Security

What are your data security responsibilities? What level of malware and antivirus protection do you require at a minimum? Does your site require a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt communications?

If your site has ecommerce functions, or if it handles or transfers confidential information, then you want to choose a hosting provider that is rated highly for secure infrastructure.

Management

How will you incorporate WordPress updates? Who will handle your plug-ins? How will your site content be refreshed on a regular basis?

This is where your in-house IT capabilities will affect your decision. Find out what support options a hosting provider offers, and whether or not the support is specific to WordPress sites. If you have a system admin or support team who can handle the technical details, then a shared hosting plan might be your best bet. But if you lack the time or resources to manage regular site maintenance tasks, then a managed WordPress hosting service is for you.

Everyone’s site requirements are different, and you may identify other questions not covered here that are specific to your objectives. In any case, make sure the hosting provider can accommodate 100% of your needs in the plan they offer.

How Do You Choose a Provider?

There are a lot of hosting providers out there, and most of them offer similar services at similar price levels, so how do you know which is the best choice? Online ratings can be helped, but they are not always accurate. It mostly comes down to which provider has the reputation for giving customers the most service and performance for the budget.

The best advice we can give is to do your research, but avoid getting too far into the weeds, particularly if you’re new to website projects and/or don’t have a system admin to fall back on for advice. The most important thing is to choose a provider who can support your WordPress site, and help you keep it running quickly, reliably, and securely. 

Here’s a few final tips when making your selection…

  • Look for a hosting provider that offers automatic updates, SSL certificates, free data backups, free domain registration, and high levels of storage and bandwidth.
  • Unless your site is Enterprise-level, you probably don’t need a VPS or dedicated server. A shared or managed WordPress hosting solution will be well-suited to most requirements.
  • When evaluating a provider’s support level, look for 24/7 live chat and/or phone support, because you never know when you might experience an issue and need to mitigate your site’s downtime.
  • WordPress plug-ins can affect your site’s performance; use them carefully if you have a shared plan, or rely on the technical expertise of the hosting provider if you decide on a managed hosting plan.

GruffyGoat partners with WP Engine, and we recommend them as a reliable, high-quality WordPress hosting provider. They even offer a 60-day money-back guarantee for new customers.

We hope this WordPress web hosting series has been informative and helpful. You can always contact GruffyGoat for any assistance with your website projects.

The following article is the third and final entry in a series exploring the topic of WordPress web hosting. The series is designed to help you determine your needs and select the best hosting solution for you. 
Part 1 of the series provided a general overview of web hosting, while Part 2 examined the different types of hosting services, with guidelines for deciding on the right model to handle your site’s objectives. Part 3 below provides some advice for choosing a web host.

Where to Start? Focus on the Basics.

To find the right WordPress hosting provider, you must first know what you’re trying to accomplish with your site. Make a list of your website’s core features and the technical requirements that are critical to its operation. You’ll want to find a provider who can meet all of your requirements.

To narrow your search parameters further, your project team should know the answers to some basic questions about your site needs before approaching potential hosting partners…

Cost 

What is your monthly hosting budget? Is it sufficient to purchase the minimum hosting plan you need to meet your site goals?

This is a situation where you can’t cut corners and hope to get the best results out of your site. If you select a low-cost hosting solution that can’t handle your site’s traffic or support the latest WordPress features, then your site will underperform. 

Many hosting providers also offer promotional discounts for new customers, so be sure you understand when the promotional period ends and what your total costs will be over Year One and beyond. Discuss the terms of rapidly upgrading your account with your provider, should your site’s usage needs increase dramatically.

Performance

How many site visitors do you anticipate each day/week/month/year? How fast will your site pages load for users? What is your tolerance for downtime?

If your host’s servers frequently go down due to technical issues, power outages, or other problems, then you’re paying them to host a site that nobody can use. Reliable hosting providers can provide performance and uptime guarantee in their SLA. Choose a provider with a consistently high uptime percentage (99% or higher), particularly if you require high levels of performance.

Security

What are your data security responsibilities? What level of malware and antivirus protection do you require at a minimum? Does your site require a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt communications?

If your site has ecommerce functions, or if it handles or transfers confidential information, then you want to choose a hosting provider that is rated highly for secure infrastructure.

Management

How will you incorporate WordPress updates? Who will handle your plug-ins? How will your site content be refreshed on a regular basis?

This is where your in-house IT capabilities will affect your decision. Find out what support options a hosting provider offers, and whether or not the support is specific to WordPress sites. If you have a system admin or support team who can handle the technical details, then a shared hosting plan might be your best bet. But if you lack the time or resources to manage regular site maintenance tasks, then a managed WordPress hosting service is for you.

Everyone’s site requirements are different, and you may identify other questions not covered here that are specific to your objectives. In any case, make sure the hosting provider can accommodate 100% of your needs in the plan they offer.

How Do You Choose a Provider?

There are a lot of hosting providers out there, and most of them offer similar services at similar price levels, so how do you know which is the best choice? Online ratings can be helped, but they are not always accurate. It mostly comes down to which provider has the reputation for giving customers the most service and performance for the budget.

The best advice we can give is to do your research, but avoid getting too far into the weeds, particularly if you’re new to website projects and/or don’t have a system admin to fall back on for advice. The most important thing is to choose a provider who can support your WordPress site, and help you keep it running quickly, reliably, and securely. 

Here’s a few final tips when making your selection…

  • Look for a hosting provider that offers automatic updates, SSL certificates, free data backups, free domain registration, and high levels of storage and bandwidth.
  • Unless your site is Enterprise-level, you probably don’t need a VPS or dedicated server. A shared or managed WordPress hosting solution will be well-suited to most requirements.
  • When evaluating a provider’s support level, look for 24/7 live chat and/or phone support, because you never know when you might experience an issue and need to mitigate your site’s downtime.
  • WordPress plug-ins can affect your site’s performance; use them carefully if you have a shared plan, or rely on the technical expertise of the hosting provider if you decide on a managed hosting plan.

GruffyGoat partners with WP Engine, and we recommend them as a reliable, high-quality WordPress hosting provider. They even offer a 60-day money-back guarantee for new customers.

We hope this WordPress web hosting series has been informative and helpful. You can always contact GruffyGoat for any assistance with your website projects.

A How-To Guide to Wordpress Hosting from GruffyGoat: Part 1

by ScottMarkley written on
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The design and development phases of your website project are only two-thirds of the process. The third major component you’ll need to launch your site to the Internet is a web host. Most organizations don’t have the IT resources and dedicated servers to host a site themselves, so they opt to partner with a third-party company that provides hosting services.

But what does a web host do, and how do you go about finding one to fit your website’s goals?

There are several important factors to consider as you move forward, which will impact both how your site functions and how it is maintained over the long-term. This article is the first in a series that will explore the topic of web hosting—specifically, Wordpress hosting—and help you make some decisions about your hosting needs.

Part 1 of the series, which follows below, is an overview of web hosting: What is it? Why do you need it? What is WordPress Hosting? Part 2 will look at the different types of hosting services and give you some guidelines for determining which type best suits your specific needs. Part 3 will explain how to find a good web host and give you some tips on what to look for in a reliable hosting service.

What Is Web Hosting?

In the simplest terms, a web host provides the technology and services needed for a website to be “live” on the Internet—that is, visible and usable by your intended audience.

Websites are hosted on specialized computer servers, where the software files that make up your site are stored and connected to the Internet. Each hosting server has a specific “address,” a series of numbers, letters, and symbols known in technical terms as the Uniform Resource Locater (URL), but which most people recognize as a site’s “www-dot” or “http” address.

When web users type your site’s URL into the address bar of their Internet browser, they go to the server address where your site is hosted and can then access your files, which display on their screens as your website’s design, navigation, and functionality features.

Why Does a Website Need to Be Hosted?

Larger companies can sometimes afford the infrastructure and staff needed to run a web server, but most don’t or can’t do it themselves. Without someone hosting your website, however, it doesn’t actually exist.

At the beginning of a website project, a lot of attention is paid to the site’s design and development. Hosting is often thought of as a “we’ll deal with that later” decision. As a result, some of the factors that might inform the design and development phases are overlooked. Factors like:

  • How will your site’s underlying software be updated?
  • How will your site be optimized for search engine ranking?
  • What sort of bandwidth usage requirements will your site have?
  • What are your requirements for transmitting and securing site data?
  • How will your site’s content be refreshed?
  • How will your website needs (and costs) scale as your business grows?

If your website’s designers and developers know the answers to these questions, then they can provide better guidance as to how the site is built and interacted with by visitors. If your project partners don’t bring the topic up, then you should start the conversation, because the decisions you make are important to your site’s ultimate success.

Choosing the right web hosting partner for your needs can improve your site’s search engine rankings, increase sales, generate more contacts with your audience, and help secure your site against malware, hackers, and outages. You also want a stable and professional hosting partner because, unlike the design and development phases which mostly end once the site goes live, the web hosting phase continues for your site’s entire lifespan. Once hosting ends, the site is no longer accessible on the Internet.

What Is WordPress Hosting?

Your GruffyGoat website is built in WordPress, which is a fairly simple programming script compatible with most web hosting companies. We recommend partnering with a web host provider who specifically offers WordPress hosting, which is optimized to WordPress’ high performance and security standards. A WordPress web host also typically offers one-click installs of the software, and many providers will automatically update your WordPress software as new versions are released.

There are a variety of WordPress hosting models, but the two most commonly employed are “shared hosting” and “managed hosting.” In a nutshell, shared hosting involves putting your website on a secure server alongside many other websites, who all share the server’s resources and connections. Your site’s speed and performance will vary by provider, as will your level of participation in operating and maintaining the site.

Managed hosting services are similar to shared hosting, but the hosting provider handles all of the back-end maintenance, including software and hardware updates, data backups, antivirus and malware protection, as well as a variety of physical and virtual security features. Your site’s speed and performance are typically better with a managed hosting solution.

Ultimately, the model of WordPress hosting that will work best for you depends on your organization’s requirements—including budgetary needs—as well as your tolerance for performing the maintenance tasks of a live WordPress site.

Now that we’ve established some of the basics, we’ll get more into the WordPress hosting models in Part 2 of this series, and give you guidance on how each model addresses specific goals. Ideally, this will help you have a productive conversation with your site developers about your hosting needs.

If you have questions about WordPress websites and hosting services, then contact the GruffyGoat team. We’ll be happy to talk with you about your needs.

Should You Build Your Own Website?

by ScottMarkley written on
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It’s a reasonable question. There are lots of tools out there—some are even free—that let enterprising companies and individuals build and manage sites with sophisticated functionality options. There are also many premade, easy-to-use design templates available online to drop all your content into. Even hosting can be a simple online transaction with no real expertise needed to attain.

So why would you ever hire a professional web developer to do it for you?

Probably for the same reason that, despite the proliferation of big-box home improvement stores and YouTube how-to videos, people still hire contractors—plumbers, electricians, carpenters—to do even simple home projects. 

Instead of trying to do it themselves, many folks would rather pay someone who knows what they’re doing, to enjoy professional results in a fraction of the time, without the headaches and frustrations involved in a specific project.

Even if you have the competency to learn how to use all the “free” development tools out there, the time and effort you will expend to learn how to do everything isn’t free at all. If it were, there would be no such thing as professional web developers.

A professional firm like GruffyGoat is comprised of people who have dedicated their educations and careers to understanding how all of this works, and they’ve learned the best practices to design and develop websites efficiently and affordably.

What might take an amateur web developer hours or even days to fix or update, our team can often do in a matter of minutes. We do it all day, every day, and we’re really good at it.

So when you’re considering trying to build your website yourself, ask yourself an important question first: “What is my time worth?

If you have other, more pressing things that need your attention—such as growing your business—then your best option is to partner with professionals like GruffyGoat. We can save you and your organization valuable time, money, and effort, and you get to achieve amazing results!

Should You Hire An In-House Wordpress Developer?

by ScottMarkley written on
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If you’re in the business of providing website design and development services built on the Wordpress platform, then at some point, the need to hire one or more full-time Wordpress developers will become critical to your sustained growth. The question for you, at that point, becomes: “Do I hire employees in-house, use third-party contractors, or partner with a development firm that can provide a range of scalable back-end services?

The answers to all three questions involve some sort of cost to your company, and whichever answer appeals to you most is likely to be directly related to the cost burden your company can support.

Hiring someone in-house understandably involves all the costs of onboarding and maintaining a full-time employee. Those expenses then multiply as your staff grows over time. The chief advantages of an in-house developer for you are their responsiveness to internal circumstances as they change, as well as a strong level of management oversight on the employee’s work. One major disadvantage is that as experienced personnel leaves your organization, they take their accumulated knowledge with them, which can take time to replace and get back up to speed.

Third-party contractors can be an affordable, flexible alternative to hiring an employee. However, the lack of control over a contractor’s production schedule could affect delivery schedules. Most third-party developers are individuals who are subject to the regular interruptions and delays of life. As a result, if your solo contractor goes down for any reason (illness, family emergency, internet outage, etc.), your entire development schedule can suddenly grind to a halt.

An ideal solution—and one that is more affordable than many business owners may realize—is to partner with a highly-trained team of back-end developers and support personnel who can not only help you outsource all your needs but also scale with your business as it grows—a team like GruffyGoat.

You can hire us on an “as-needed” basis, or as an ongoing service and support partner for an extended period of time. Our experts can cover any aspect of a Wordpress site—from building the architecture and providing hosting and maintenance, to offering full technical support and management of customer requests and changes. We can even provide supplemental design and content services if needed.

You get all the business benefits of a full-service, in-house Wordpress development team, all without having to pay expensive salaries and benefits, without having to manage your developers taking time off or calling in sick, and without having your CTO leave for four months to go surf when you need them the most. Even if you already have in-house developers, we can supplement your internal capabilities by helping manage overflow tasks as you grow!

We work behind the scenes to support your business and keep operations running smoothly. We can be as visible or invisible to your clients as you wish, and you can even repackage our services under your own branding.  Best of all, you can focus on landing more website projects and growing your business and worry far less about how you’re going to deliver your next Wordpress project on-time and on-budget.

Whether you need front-end assistance with simple, theme-based marketing sites, or you need a “full-stack” developer to build high-end, integrated sites with complex functionality, why hire a full-time employee when you can partner with a team of professionals who cost less and can do more?

If you’re asking yourself, “Should I hire an in-house developer?”, then the answer is, “No…you should hire GruffyGoat!

4 Tips for Beginning a Website

by will.sowers written on
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So we all know about the great stressors of life: getting married, having kids, moving… these cause us to get stressed, not because they are bad, but because they all take an unimaginable amount of work. You have to clean up, get organized, declutter, spend unplanned amounts of money, make hard on-the-spot decisions, plan for years down the road but also keep your daily duties under control. It’s absolute chaos for months.

So how do we combat the craziness of these stressors? It comes down to good ole fashioned preparedness. It takes months of boxing up your attic, trash bag after trash bag, dusting, repainting, overall hard work. There is no better solution than effort. Working consistently for an appropriate amount of time before the project helps everything to flow smoothly and easily.

This is no different with a website. There are tons of issues that can cause stress during a build. There are things you, as a business owner, have no reason to worry about, but you will still worry about them. There are decisions that you will have to think about that you have never considered before. This is uncharted territory. Territory with wallet-ravaging monsters who want to leave you deserted and helpless (more or less). Websites seem harmless. YouTube ads make them seem so easy, almost too easy to be true. But listen. If you get a month into a web build, you will be feeling some sort of stress.

This post is a resource to help business owners be prepared. Take as much as you want. Some of this might not apply to your scenario, but some of it will.

1. Content

This is a killer for some people. If you don’t like to write, you should find someone who does. Websites are made up of words and images (yeah, super simplified). If you don’t have any words that you think can represent your company, you need to get someone to write for you. As a general practice, each page of a website should have anywhere from 300-500 words on it. You should also include relevant original content. If your website’s copy doesn’t benefit visitors with good information, your visitors will leave.

There are tons of people who are great at writing website content. You can find freelancers that are expensive but will do an incredible job, or you can let someone within your company do it. You are going to get out what you put in.

If you enter a web build with content in hand, that means your designer and developer can start sketching out your site after the first meeting. If you don’t have content when you come in to get started, be prepared to spend time working on it before you get into the fun stuff – design.

2. Images

This is a form of content but needs to be talked about separately. Photography is a huge element online. This not only affects the style of your site, but also the usability. Thankfully, there are tons of options when it comes to imagery.

If you have no budgetary constraints, design is limitless (mostly) if you have a limitless budget. Custom illustrations and professional photography are a dream for a designer to work with and can make your site look awesome.

For the rest of us though, the options usually consist of stock vs. real photography. I know this is a trigger for some designers out there, but there isn’t much of a difference. Whichever option you as the client choose, keep it consistent. If you use stock, use all stock. It is hard to make sure the quality of your own photos are edited as well as the professional photos. If the quality is inconsistent even the untrained eye can tell. We like using stock photography because it saves time and money for our clients in the end. There are great free stock photo sites like pixabay.com and unsplash.com but istock.com and other paid sites will have many more options and often better quality.

Warning to all clients: if you use real photography, this means you are responsible for taking or paying someone to take real photos of real employees around your real facility. This is a lot of work between cleaning your workspace, scheduling a photoshoot day, and finding a reliable photographer. Just be warned. This option also requires an extra week or so for your photographer to edit and prepare the photos they took. All this time adds up.

If you have all of your imagery in hand at the beginning of the project, you will be cutting the length of the project tremendously. Just make sure your images are the appropriate size and file type for the web (i.e. full screen images are usually about 2000 pixels wide). Services like tinypng.com can help you optimize your images for web.

3. Products

E-Commerce is a big deal with websites now. Online stores are everywhere. There are many benefits that can come from an online store, but there is just as much work to think about while building it.

Here are some things that we suggest you do before starting your online store.

  • Get your products organized.
  • Categorize them into groups.
  • Name them appropriately.
  • Set your prices.
  • Assign product SKU#s.
  • Photograph your products.
  • Create a payment option account (we love Stripe).
  • Choose your shipping options.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are lots of decisions that need to be made on this front, but one serious warning and suggestion to come with this. Discuss your shop primarily with your developers. The reason for this caution is, you as a business owner have great aspirations and lofty dreams for your ideal site. In your mind, everything you think of will work. The reality is, you are getting the site you are paying for. If you have a lower budget, your shop will need to be minimal. Talk to your developer to make sure what you are planning is within your project’s scope or even possible.

Structuring your shop before a project helps, but the hardest battle is not setting your expectations higher than your developer’s abilities or budget.

4. Committees

This tip is not like the others. This is not an item for your site, yet it is equally if not more important than finishing your project efficiently and with little to no hassle.

There are sayings such as: “Too many cooks spoil the soup” and “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” These are both so true for websites. Too many opinions on design and development kill a project. Everyone is a critic.

We like when clients have one person as the leader and point man for communication. This allows for profitable conversations and constructive criticism throughout the project. There are definitely times for larger scale feedback, but we find that the length of a project is related to the number of people who are needed to approve a decision.

If you are starting a website build, think about whether or not certain people or even departments within your company should have a say in a decision. You want to be efficient with your time and your money, so don’t let personal opinions hinder your goals.

Before you start panicking about all the work to be done, know that this is a great step for your business. A website is a sign of legitimacy today. You are about to be a higher functioning business because of the project you are working on. This is a great thing. Also, know that web designers and developers are on your side. They want you to succeed and do well. We are all on the same team. We are professionals that are working to help you reach your goals.

There are a ton of other things not in this post that you will need to consider before beginning your project, but these are really big ones. This post is just to get you to think about the work ahead, but also think about who your team is. We at GruffyGoat are a full-service web studio which means we do it all for you. If you are interested in learning more about us, follow the links below and follow us. We would love to help with your next project.

Websites as a Business Tool

by sydney.cooke written on
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One of my teammates sent us this article for tips on blogging. It was a great read for bloggers but as I was reading there were several items on the list that I felt applied to building websites.

A website is often the first impression for your business so it is important to understand who will see it, why they are looking at it, and also what you want them to do with it. You can have a beautiful design but if you don’t think through its use from a deeper level, your website will not function as a tool for your business. Ultimately, you need a strategy that encompasses all of these things and more… (see #13 on the link above). Why do you need a website and how does it work within your entire business toolkit?

Thanks to Dreamhost for this content that I am unashamedly borrowing – you get all the credit. Let’s pull out some of the more significant items on the list.

Who is your audience?

This is important for any business, website or not. It is a foundational piece of your marketing and sales which are necessary for growth. Know who you are selling to and talk specifically to them. This goes for your website, your pitches, and even how you answer your phone.

What value are you offering?

This goes back to knowing your audience and customer. If you understand who you are talking to you can directly appeal to them by clearly communicating the value you bring to their life. This information should be on your homepage. Make it clear and hard to miss!

What credibility do you have?

There are a few ways your website offers your business credibility. In some ways, just having one is the first step! Professional design and images are another way to make people understand you are legit. Offering testimonials and client logos are great to immediately illustrate credibility. We often recommend having these as a small section on your homepage.

What is your call to action?

This goes back to knowing what you want your client to do while on your site or what their next step is. Do you want them to contact you directly? Fill out a form? Buy something? Determine your call to action(s) and make it very easy for a visitor to follow through.

Think mobile

People will visit your website on their mobile device before and more often than your desktop, especially B to C sites. (See this study.) It is important to understand how interactions change on those handheld devices. Some things just don’t translate well. We design and build websites with a “mobile first” mindset, knowing that is how most people will interact with each site.

Invest in professional equipment.

I would be remiss in not stating that your website will benefit tremendously by hiring professionals, from the photography to the copy to the design and code. More than likely you are not an expert at all of the necessary elements to building a strong site so if you can, hire help. There are certainly ways to minimize the financial investment and we make sure that we work with our clients within their means and make recommendations to be budget-friendly. Not sure what this means, contact us.

Glossary of Client Onboarding Terminology

by sydney.cooke written on
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We get it, if websites were your “thing” you would not be working with us. And for that we are grateful! We take our responsibility to educate you seriously which is why we have built a glossary of terms below (and will be writing more blogs to dig deeper into some of these terms). This is not so that you can become an expert but just so as we work on your project, you feel comfortable with and understand the language we are using.

Anchor Point

Anchor link, or jump tag, enables you to create a hyperlink to a part of the same page. You’ve seen them. It’s when you click on a drop down menu thinking you’re going to go to a different page on the site and it just scrolls down the same page to a different section of content. This is a great way to navigate information especially when you don’t want to have a lot of pages, particularly short pages.

Back End

Consists of a server, an application, and a database. It dictates what happens when a user interacts with a site. A visitor to your site cannot actually see the back end of the site – site managers and admins can log into the back end to edit the site’s content and/or code.

Backup

A saved version of your site so that is something ever happens/breaks, we can revert back to a recently saved, properly functioning, version. We backup all of our hosted sites daily so nobody has to worry.

Content

Text and visual content that is part of the user experience. It includes text, images, sounds, videos, etc.

Conversion

Getting your visitors to do what you want them to do, whether that is to buy your product, sign up for your newsletter, register for a webinar, download a whitepaper, or fill out a lead/contact form, etc.

Design

Part of the process of creating websites. It encompasses several different aspects, including layout, content production, and graphics/media. While the terms web design and web development are often used interchangeably, web design is technically a subset of the broader category of web development.

Development

The main non-design aspects of building websites like writing code, creating functionality, and, configuring the back end.

DNS Records

Control where all the traffic goes to and from your domain. Think of DNS like a traffic cop, directing everyone where they need to go. Similarly, DNS records tell all inbound & outbound traffic where to go.

Domain Name

Your website address or URL. (i.e. yourname.com). Think of it as your home address on the web.

Domain Registrar

Where you purchased your domain name. There are hundreds of domain registrars out there, but the most common ones are GoDaddy.com, NameCheap.com or NetworkSolutions.com.

E-commerce

 Electronic commerce or internet commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.

Email Provider

Like hosting (below), but for your email. It’s where you go to login and access your email messages. The most common providers are Google/GSuite, Outlook.com or free email through your hosting provider.

Front End

What users see and interact with from fonts to colors to content.

Google Analytics

One of the most popular digital analytics software. This free web analytics service allows you to analyze in-depth detail about the visitors on your website. It provides valuable insights that can help you to shape the success strategy of your business from the number of visitors to where they live, how they accessed your site, what pages they visited, and how long they stayed on each page.

Homepage

The main page a visitor navigating to your website will see; it is sometimes to referred to as a landing page. The homepage is a visitor’s first impression.

Hosting Provider

Hosting is what allows your website to live on the web. Hosting is like your landlord — it’s who you pay monthly or yearly to keep your site online.

Header

Used to reference items at the very top of your website. Often it is used to only reference the first large image (or header image) that most websites have but it can also include the smaller top menu and navigation bars.

Integration

Can be used in many ways when it comes to websites but we are specifically referencing when another entity (software, social media, program, database, etc.) is placed inside of or made to work with a website.

Layout

A website layout is a pattern (or framework) that defines a website’s structure. It has the role of organizing the information present on a site both for the website’s owner and for users.

Menu (or Navigation Menu)

A collection or list of links. The most common placement of a menu is in the site navigation area or navigation bar at the top of each website page. This is where your main pages are listed and child or internal pages can be listed as a drop down.

Plug-in

A piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress.

Responsive

Adaptability of a website to respond to the size of screen it is being viewed on. A responsive site will render well on a variety of screen sizes using flexible layouts.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. It is how you get Google, and other search engines, to notice and list your website as search results.

Slider

A slideshow added into a web page, often as a rotating header image either on the homepage or at the top of interior pages. You can also add sliders as lower sections on a page; it’s basically just a rotating image. There are many WordPress plugins available which allow you to create your own sliders and add them to your home page, landing pages, posts, or anywhere you want.

Template (also called a child-theme)

The layout or blueprint of your site; it helps structure your website, giving you areas to place pictures and text, or things like navigation bars and other widgets. Your template should vary depending on the kind of page you are creating, but will share similar patterns across your site. A layout for a gallery page will differ to the layout for your blog page, which in turn, will differ from your contact page; however, they will also have things in common, for example, the location of your navigation bar. The template is like the walls and furniture of your house.

Theme

A builder for your site. You can almost relate a theme to an architect for your house.  Some themes are highly customizable and some are not. Themes dictate how you can build your site and what you can change. They can have set layouts you can build with, but others have smaller pieces you can use how you want. We use mainly Divi. We love Divi because of the custom design abilities, the easy-to-use visual builder, and the functionality/versatility of the modules.

Updates

Referring to WordPress and plugins. They need to be updated! Most updates keep improving plugins by adding new features, improving code quality, and keeping them secure. You should always keep your WordPress plugins up to date to ensure that those changes are applied on your site immediately. When WordPress itself has an update, it’s probably a good idea to let a developer take care of that update as it can impact everything on your site especially if the update isn’t compatible with a plugin. We manage all updates as part of our maintenance plan.

Uptime

Simply the amount of time your website is live. Ideally, it is 100% of the time!

User Experience (UX)

Literally how a visitor or user interacts with each element of your website. It is important for visitors to have a great experience or they will leave. Good UX has an understanding of what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. Three keys to successful UX: effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction. UX is structural whereas UI (often used interchangeably) is more aesthetic.

User Interface (UI)

Focuses on anticipating what users might need to do and ensuring that the interface has elements that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions. UI brings together concepts from interaction design, visual design, and information architecture. UX is structural whereas UI (often used interchangeably) is more aesthetic. (Want to dive deeper into UX & UI?)

Website Strategy

Deserves a much longer narrative but for a very high-level overview, a website needs a strategy to be successful. Some elements of a web strategy are: knowing your goals & objectives, understanding user, knowing market and competitors, knowing what tools are necessary, and having good messaging. Here are some questions to get you started.

Website Functionality

All the things your website can do both from a macro (i.e. blog, events calendar, forms) to a micro level. On one level it is the ease with which a viewer can navigate your site and obtain the information they are seeking. It is also the steps and actions that they take to get from one point to another, i.e. buttons, calls to actions, links, page navigation, etc. But from a macro level, it is specific functions you want your website to perform like have a form or an events calendar or maybe integrate with your CRM system.

Wireframe

A schematic, blueprint or skeletal framework of a website. A wireframe typically uses boxes and dummy text to show where and how content and other elements will be laid out on a website. Wireframes are used for a quick mockup of the arrangement of website elements for accomplishing a specific purpose, be it aesthetic or usability.

Widget/Snippet

A small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user.

We had help writing out these definitions – thanks to techterms.comtechopedia.comWordPresswebstrategist.comwpbeginner.com.