Learning the WordPress Lingo

wordpress-logoWe’ve brought you design terminology and web development terminology, but WordPress has a lot of terms particular to their platform. If you’re just getting started with WordPress, knowing the lingo can really help you create the website you want. Here goes!

Theme
Wordpress comes with two built in themes (Twenty Eleven and Twenty Twelve), but there are hundreds, if not thousands available. More than just “skins” for a static interface, these themes can fundamentally change the navigation, functionality, and page layout of your website, as well as the look. There are tons of free themes, but there are also premium themes. In general, premium themes are not “better” than free themes, though they do tend to include more special features like carousels or responsive design.

Plugin
In addition to all the awesome customization that themes can offer, the WordPress plugin library can further tweak your website’s functionality. A plugin is an add-on, and there are thousands of them that will add different features to your site. For instance, the Ajax Event Calendar will add an editable calendar, the SEO by Yoast plugin will add search engine optimization capabilities, and the Disqus plugin will replace the default WordPress comments with a prettier, more customizable comments feature. Basically, whatever you want – there’s a plugin for that.

The Loop
In order to display your website, WordPress “calls” your content through what they call “The Loop.” Let’s say you have a blog, and the homepage shows all your latest blogposts. The Loop is a block of code that retrieves information about each blogpost and shows the title, content, and meta data about that post, then loops back and retrieves the information for the next post. The Loop can be highly customized to show any information about a particular post you want!

Post Type
For most themes, there are only two post types: posts and pages. The difference between posts and pages can be a confusing distinction for WordPress beginners. Posts are intended to be used for a blog. New posts will automatically be added to The Loop and displayed on your blogpost homepage. Pages, on the other hand, are intended to house static content, like an About or Contact page.

Sidebar
Most themes (including ours) has a sidebar. Most often, the sidebar is the same on every page and displays some or all of the following features: recent posts, a search field, archives, comments, photos, or anything else you want to display on every page!

Widgets
Widgets are drag-and-drop functions that can be added to widgetable areas (most often the sidebar). In the image below, you can see various widgets which can be dropped into the sidebar. There are thousands of widgets available for download in the plugins area.

widgets

Dashboard
This is the term used for the WordPress admin area. From the Dashboard, you can add new posts or pages, change settings, and even see analytics about your traffic!

dashboard

What to Do When You Think Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked

WordPress is popular for good reason: it’s user-friendly, reliable, well-built, and generally secure. But nothing’s perfect. WordPress’s popularity means its users are also tempting targets for hackers who are looking to infect a large number of websites.

One of the most treacherous things about being hacked is that you probably won’t know. In order to use your site for their purposes under-the-radar, hackers may intentionally leave your site up and running normally after they’ve installed their backdoor.

There are, of course, clues. A friend of mine recently discovered her site was hacked after her Google search results started showing ads for Viagra in the description. She sells jewelry, not pills, and was understandably concerned. After running her site through Sucuri’s security scanner, I was able to confirm that she had indeed been hacked.

If you’re concerned about your website’s security, or even worse, you’ve been blacklisted by browsers…

blacklisted

… that scan will at least let you know if you’re in danger, but it won’t fix it.

So what can you do? If you have a backup from before you noticed the issues, you might be all set. Restore the older version, repost any new content (we recommend doing it by hand instead of a WordPress export to be sure you’re not carrying the malicious code with you), and rescan your site to be sure the security issues are resolved.

If you don’t have a backup service already installed, we cannot recommend enough getting one ASAP! There are lots of great premium services, but UpdraftPlus Backup will backup both your database and files and store the files in your Dropbox, FTP, or Amazon S3 account for free. Check out this post for more information on backing up your content.

If you’re already hacked, but have no backup, don’t despair. All is not lost.

Make sure you’re updated to the latest version of WordPress. The developers over at WordPress stay on top of the latest malware and build security right into the framework. Staying up-to-date will also help the scanner detect suspicious code and prevent future attacks.

Then create a backup of your infected site because a malware site is still easier to fix than a deleted one.

Install Wordfence. Not only will this plugin help block hacking attempts, but it will also scan your site for anything out-of-place, and let you fix it with the click of a button. Perform the scan and fix any problems that it catches, then run your site through Sucuri again to see if you’re clean.

If not, your next line of defense is trial and error. Re-download and install all your plugins, rescanning with Sucuri along the way to try to narrow down where the problem is. Switch your theme to a core WordPress theme, delete yours, and rescan.

As a last resort (before contacting a professional), try exporting your WordPress posts via the WordPress exporter, backing up your wp-content/uploads folder, deleting the entire site, and reimporting your posts to a clean version of WordPress.

Good luck!

How to Make Your Business’s Website Reflect Your Business

If you’ve ever taken your business to a branding consultant, you know that your business has a personality.

It might be professional or casual, modern or classic. Whatever the personality, a good branding manager will choose it carefully and make sure any materials put forth by that business are in sync with that tone. Really well-done branding will promote credibility and customer loyalty, so it can be well worth the time to get it right.

Ideally, your business’s website is an extension of your business – it’s tone matches your tone. But how do you fit a website into your branding strategy?

1. Think of your website as an employee. Since your website should work for you, it’s not too far off! If your website were a person you could hire, would they be smart or funny? Warm or serious? Think of the key qualities you would seek in an employee to solidify what the most important aspects of your website’s personality should be.

2. Look to your logo, if you have one. Does your business’s logo have particular colors or fonts? Rounded corners or strong lines? What about any 3D elements like a drop shadow or bevel effect? All these design qualities can be included in your website to help your cohesive branding. If you don’t have a logo, well you’re freer to take your website in any direction!

3. Prioritize the most important information. Really think about your individual website as a vehicle for your individual business. What are your site visitors looking for? Make it easy for them to find.

4. Break tradition. Just because some websites have an About page doesn’t mean you have to. Or maybe you want to make the About page the first page on the site. Look around at other websites to see what you like or don’t, but think outside the box about what you want people to do on your site.

5. Make your calls to action prominent. Ultimately, your goal isn’t to get customers to marvel at your site design, but to contact you or buy your product. Make sure the actionable items are obvious, but also pay special attention that they integrate into the design well. A call to action that overtakes the design can annoy rather than intrigue.

6. Tweak the copy. Your site’s copy should emphasize your chosen personality while still providing all the valuable information your visitors need. We have a whole post about writing great site copy here!

7. Make sure it works. This one seems obvious, but the best design in the world can cover for flaws like broken links or clumsy navigation.

How to Write Compelling Copy for the Modern Web

Is your copy doing as much for your business’s website as it could? Both an art and a science, copywriting must take into account personality and eloquence while also appealing to a target demographic and being compelling enough to be effective. In short, it’s harder than it seems.

We’ve previously posted a multi-part guide on writing content, but this was more geared towards blogwriting. Copywriting is a totally different animal, and therefore worthy of a whole separate set of tips and guidelines.

Obviously both blogposts and copy are comprised of text, but the main difference between them is generally a call to action. The copy’s purpose is to drive your reader to an action (such as to buy your product or fill out your contact us form), while the blogpost may just be informational or interesting. Since the goal of copy is different, your style has to be adjusted accordingly.

Things get a little tricker though when you consider the state of the modern web and how people access it. Every day, the number of people visiting the Internet on a mobile device is climbing. This means the size of the average screen being used to view your website is getting smaller all the time, and your copy (as well as your design) should take this into account, which brings us to our first point…

Keep it short. 
Decide what the most important one to three points you want to get across on each page are, and write one to three sentences to convey them. Visitors (and especially mobile visitors) are looking for information fast – so give it to them fast. If you absolutely must have more copy than three sentences…

Break up paragraphs.
Visually, breaking up your paragraphs will make your copy easier to read, but separating sections of copy will also help to define a hierarchy of importance. Put your main one to three points in the first paragraph. Then, if more information is needed, put that in a second short paragraph. The next-most important information can go in the third paragraph, and so on. Readers can then self-select where they want to stop reading, but they’ll have certainly taken away your most important points since you put them in the first paragraph.

Be conversational.
This doesn’t mean you have to use the first or second person, though you certainly can. The idea behind conversational copy is to make reading and comprehending your copy nearly thoughtless. Use simple sentence structure and stay away from advanced vocabulary. Have a friend or colleague read over your copy and ask if they had to go back to read anything more than once. If so, revise.

Only use superlatives you can backup.
If you find yourself walking around New York City, just about every block has a shop touting that they have “The Best Pizza in New York.” The claim no longer means anything. However, “‘The Best Pizza in New York’ – NYT” has a lot more power. Superlatives tend to make customers suspicious or doubtful, so make sure your superlatives are backed up by testimonials or facts to pack a real punch.

Recognize the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’.
This may vary based on your business, but chances are good that your product or service is not a basic human need. Your copy should tap into readers’ wants with copy that evokes desire and interest, not urgent necessity. Ways to do this would be to hype the “cool-factor” of your product or the competitive advantage your service can offer.

Write in phases.
Try writing your next bit of copy in four phases like this:

  • Phase 1: Define key points and write one to three sentences just conveying those points as simply as possible.
  • Phase 2: Rewrite with desired tone and personality as though you were talking directly to a customer.
  • Phase 3: Rewrite for SEO, using targeted key phrases.
  • Phase 4: Read your copy aloud. Resimplify by cutting as much superfluous text as possible.

Challenge: Pick one page on your website and rewrite the copy keeping these tips in mind. If you have access to an A/B testing module, run your new copy through a test!

Email Signatures: Best Practices and Tips

email-marketing-smaller

It’s just the little bit of text at the bottom of your messages, but your email signature can make a big impact. However, creating an email signature that will look great in all the various email clients is rough. Some clients will resize images, some won’t. Some will force hard line breaks, some won’t. So how do you create an email signature that will look stellar to everyone who sees it?

Text is safest.
If you can avoid using images, do. Are they pretty? Yes. Do they work in all email clients? No. Your best chance for creating a universal formatting for your signature is to use text only. However, if that’s not an option…

Edit all images to be the exact size you want.
Keep them small to prevent old email clients from blowing your logo or other images way out of proportion. Another good tip for images is…

Use absolute URLs for images.
For universal support, be sure to always use the http://, and don’t use shortened urls. This could set off the spam filters!

Don’t go overboard.
Chances are if you’re already communicating with this person, they already have information for reaching you, so why bulk up your email signature with three phone numbers, five social media links, an inspiring quote, and your entire CV? Keep your signature to a minimum. A single phone number, one email address, and one to two social media contacts should be more than enough.

Consider all caps, bolding, an italics to help set separate your information
If you want your name to really stand out, bold it and make it uppercase. This will help create visual variety in your signature while staying compatible.

Use spacers to separate content while using fewer lines.
An upright pipe (|) or a bullet (•) work nicely. You can set the spacers to be a lighter grey color so they’re not as prominent, but still effectively separate your content.

Use inline styling.
It’s definitely counter-intuitive to web designers, but if you’re going to use CSS in your email signature, make sure it is ALL inline to ensure compatibility.

Don’t set any text to white.
It will set off the spam filters!

Use a nosend=”1″ attribute for images
This will keep your images from showing up as attachments in an email. Just add it to the image tag like so: <img src=”http://lunaweb.com/logo” nosend=”1″ alt=”lunaweb logo” border=”0″ width=”21″ height=”17″ />. This will only work if you are composing your emails in HTML, though.

Hopefully this will help you create awesome email signatures! Just remember simple is good when it comes to email, so don’t over-think it.

Typography Terminology: What Makes a Font?

When it comes to your business’s website, a beautiful design is really an accessory of vehicle to get your message across, a message that is usually contained in words. Those words are inextricably linked with the alphabet, which is for the purposes of the Internet, linked to typography.

Different fonts have different personalities. Some go together, and some clash terribly. In a previous post focused on helping readers to choose fonts for their web design, we discussed some of the overall aesthetic principles that should guide font choice. For this article, we’d like to look more closely at the actual characters themselves and learn some type terminology.

Glyph - the shape that represents a letter in a typeface. Examples incude ‘G’, ‘#’, ‘i’, ‘?’, and ’8′.

Letterfit – the way in which characters in a font fit together to create text based on the width of the glyphs and the kerning.

Kerning – The horizontal space between two letters. A well-designed font will contain specific “kerning pairs” that set the space between particular glyphs. For instance, the pair “WA” (the letters actually overlap horizontally) has a tighter kerning setting than ‘WW” (the letters are close but do not overlap horizontally).

Monospaced – a font in which all the characters are the same width and there are no kerning pairs (meaning the width between each character is also the same) is “monospaced.”

X-Height – the height of the lowercase ‘x’ in a particular font sets the “x-height” which is used to determine the type size. The x-height of all of these fonts is the same, but see how the relation of the ‘x’ to the other letters can make the overall typeface seem larger or smaller.

x-height

Aperature - partially enclosed negative space in a glyph, such as on the top and bottom of the letter ‘s’, the lower part of ‘e’, and the top of a double-story lowercase ‘a’. In a great font, the size and shape of these apertures are carefully considered to provide balance to the letters.

Eye - the (usually) enclosed circle at the top of a lowercase ‘e’.

Ascender – any part of a lowercase letter that extends above the x-height, as in the letter ‘d’, ‘t’, or ‘f’.

Descender – any part of a lowercase letter that extends below the baseline, as in ‘j’, ‘g’, or ‘y’.

Knowing the specific names for certain parts or features of glyphs will help you to not in recognizing various fonts when they are used, but also in matching fonts by similarities. Here’s a great graphic from Font Shop that shows even more glyph characteristics!

typography

Resources for Moving from Blogger to WordPress without Losing Your SEO Ranking

blogger-to-wordpress-transition

Recently, we posted an in-depth article detailing exactly how to move your content from Blogger to WordPress. It’s a bit time consuming, but ultimately worth it to have more control over your content. Using the instructions in that post, you can move all your posts and images to your new WordPress account, but you are losing one important thing in the migration: your SEO ranking.

So, we wanted to make a quick addendum to that post to give you some resources for fixing this problem.

You see, while your blog was live on Blogger, search engines were scanning for new pages, indexing your content, and associating your site with certain keywords. If your URL has changed in your migration (it was probably something like yoursite.blogpost.com), search engines don’t know where that content is anymore, and you will lose your SEO footing.

Another downside to the migration is that any websites that link to your content, or visitors that have your links bookmarked, won’t be directed to your new site when they follow those links.

Never fear, though! There are solutions for these problems! So let’s get going, but first it’s always a good idea to back up both your Blogger and WordPress sites first, just in case.

Whether you had a custom domain on blogger or used the standard blogspot.com domain, you’re going to be setting up a 301 redirect, which is basically a bit of code in the header of a site that tells the browser and search engines that the content of this page has been permanently moved. Set up properly, 301 redirects can be put in place site wide, so any instance of youroldurl.blogpost.com/anything-here will go to yournewurl.com/anything-here.

There are plugins that will do a lot of the work for you, the key is just to find one that you’re comfortable with. Both of these are very straightforward and contain great instructions on the back end to help you set up everything just how you will want it.

However, if you’re comfortable accessing your website via FTP, we’d more readily recommend this method from WPBeginner. It does dive into the code a bit, but if you’re careful in your copy-pasting you shouldn’t have any problems. Again, backing everything up before you begin is always a good idea.

Unless you really know what you’re doing, avoid any method for 301 redirects that involve your .htaccess file. Messing that up can really down your site! GOOD LUCK!

Do’s and Don’ts for Restaurant, Bar, and Cafe Websites

restaurant

The food service industry has different needs when it comes to a website. They need a menu interface and maybe review integration, but a lot of restaurants get it all wrong when it comes to websites. That’s why we’ve put together this list to help restaurants, bars, and cafe bring their websites out of 2002 and make a splash.

DO post your menu with prices.
The number one thing people want to know when they go to your website is what you serve and how much it costs. Even if your menu is seasonal and constantly changing, provide a sample menu so people know what type of food to expect and how much they can expect to pay for it. If your website only contains literally one thing, let it be a menu.

DON’T link to your PDF menu.
Forcing a user to download your 80 MB menu is not the same as having it available on your website. Save the PDF as an JPG so you can embed it right into the page, or just copy paste the text.

DO put your address and phone number on every page.
The header or footer is a great place for your address and phone number, and while you’re at it, your hours of operation would be good to have on every page, too. People aren’t on your website for an experience, they are there for information. So give it to them!

DON’T auto-play music.
This could be a whole post in an of itself, but let us be totally and completely clear: auto-playing music on your website is NEVER a good idea. While many websites are guilty of this web sin, there’s no bigger offender than the restaurant industry. No matter how much you think that a recording of a mariachi band will set the scene for your Mexican restaurant’s website, what it will actually do is be intrusive. Your visitors may be listening to their own music, or worse still, be in a quiet place where your website will become a larger disturbance. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

DO be mobile-compatible.
As a restaurant, you’re definitely going to get mobile traffic. Whether you go with a responsive design or a separate mobile site, make sure your menus, location, and phone number are prominent for mobile users so they can find your most important information quickly.

DON’T rely on flash.
You’ve seen it before. The website with a smooth photo montage introduction that slides away to reveal an elaborate video-infused website. Here’s a good example (or should we say terrible example), and it even has music to boot. If you can’t highlight any of the text on the page, that website is in flash. And guess what? Since you can’t access any of that text, neither can search engines. That means you’re not coming up in searches as often as you should be, so people aren’t finding your restaurant. Last but not least, flash is not universally mobile compatible, so you’re losing customers on smartphones and tablets, too.

DO post photos of the food.
Note: only if you can find someone who knows how to do great food photography. If so, photos of menu items can go a long way to whetting potential customers’ appetites. Bad food photos, on the other hand, will only backfire. If the photos don’t look enough to eat themselves, leave them off.

DON’T use Papyrus.
For some reason restaurant websites just love Papyrus. This font has been done. It’s been done again. And it’s over.

DO integrate good reviews.
A block of copy that says “We have friendly service and great food” is nowhere near as powerful to your potential customers as a review that says “Amazing food – great service.” Where ever possible, use real customer reviews to get your point across. Yelp provides API integration so you can display snippets of reviews, but copy-paste works too! Just keep the integrity of the original review, and if you are copy-pasting, ask the writer for permission to reproduce the review.

DON’T forget to include your specials.
For some unbeknownst reason, tons of restaurant websites forget to include happy hour specials, lunch deals, and special events nights like trivia or karaoke. This is prime homepage material, folks!

We hope this is helpful, and that your restaurant, bar, or cafe website will be a hit!

Stop Losing Customers on Your Slow WordPress Site!

stopwatch

Is your site slow to load? Afraid it’s affecting your bounce rate? Well it is, but we’ve got even worse news: if your site loads slowly, your bounce rate is probably much higher than you know. If a visitor clicks away before your Google Analytics script has loaded, that visitor isn’t even counted in your bounce rate.

Scary stuff, right? Especially if your bounce rate is already higher than you’d like.

In case you don’t know, your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that only hit one page before exiting your site, and a lower bounce rate is always better. The lower the bounce rate percentage, the more people are enjoying your content, subscribing to your newsletters, and buying your products. But one of the major factors driving up bounce rates for many websites is a slow load time.

Another huge downside of having a slow load time is that it affects your Google search ranking negatively, so it’s definitely worth your while to try some of the methods below to get your site up to snuff!

On WordPress, slow load times are a particular problem because of how people tend to overload their sites with heavy content and plugins. Fear not though, we’ve got the tools and tips to help you!

Pingdom Speed Test
Don’t know how fast your site loads? Well you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know how bad it is! Plug your URL into this speed test tool to see how you measure up and what files are slowing you down.

Remove Extra Plugins
That includes Hello Dolly (unless you use it… but does anyone?). Try to pare your plugins down as much as possible because every extra plugin means more files for the browser to download. Delete the inactive ones too for good measure.

Empty Your Trash
Get rid of your spam comments by going to Comments > Empty Spam. Empty the Trash by going to Posts > Trash > Empty Trash and also Posts > Trash > Empty Trash. And especially delete old post revisions. The easiest way is with this plugin (that you can delete when you’re done), Better Delete Revision.

Optimize Your Images
If you’re uploading 5MB photos to your website – quit! Edit your images to be as small as possible (and still look great on your website!). If you don’t have Photoshop, use this wonderful online editor, Pixlr.

A Caching Plugin
“But you just said to cut down on plugins!” you exclaim. We know, but this is one worth having. WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are the leaders in the field. Both are great, though WP Super Cache is a little less overwhelming for beginners.

Ask for Help from Your Hosting Provider
It’s a little known fact, but your hosting provider might be able to move you to a less crowded shared server or increase your bandwidth. All you have to do is ask (or insist, depending on your customer service representative).

Then re-test your site to see if you’re faster! If not, ask your hosting provider what you can do to speed up your site.

10 Professional and Free WordPress Themes for Your Business

Did you know you can host a powerful and versatile company website on the WordPress.org platform? Frequently we find our clients confused about WordPress sites – they’re not just for blogs. In fact, lots of businesses use WordPress for their static sites because a designated web administrator from within the company can easily edit pages through the Content Management System (or CMS – which we have a whole post about right here). He or she doesn’t even need to know HTML or any programming language because the backend is as easy as a few menus and a word processor.

What you will need for your new site is a great design, and luckily for you, there are seemingly endless pre-made WordPress themes to suit your needs. Some are premium; some are free. For a new business with a limited time-frame or budget, one option is to try to find a free or low-cost theme, and then hire a designer to help you personalize it. It’s a little known fact that once you’ve downloaded a theme, you own all the files, so you can edit it however you want!

Here are 10 awesome and totally free themes. Maybe you’ll love them as is, or if not, you can always add a few tweaks here and there and no one will know you didn’t build it from scratch!

Danko
Intended for non-profts or charities, this beautiful theme could be great for an array of businesses. Plus the slider is so unique!

Pytheas
Clean, simple, and great for a business with a portfolio. It’s got a well-integrated slider, and it’s responsive!

Academia
Just as the name suggests, this site is tailored towards schools and universities, but is by no means so limited. If you’re looking for the scholarly feel, check this one out.

Poloray
This one’s all business: clean, smart, and professional.

Sight
Have a lot of content to get out there? We love this theme because it packs a lot on the page without overwhelming the eye. We love the modern twist on a newspaper-look, too!

Bizz
Another responsive beauty from WPExplorer, the Bizz theme already has a fantastic layout, just add your colors and logo!

Suburbia
Another option for a content-heavy blog, this theme fits in a lot of elements seamlessly with its innovative layout.

Structure
With modern lines and striking fonts – this theme will definitely make a splash.

Themia
A simple but sleek design for a small website that doesn’t need much fluff.

Murmur
Another clean, professional choice that could be really personalized with the addition of an accent color!