Why A Shared Server is not Good Enough for WooCommerce

My clients are taking advantage of proven-strategies to speed up their Woocommerce store and it is giving them an edge over their competitors. Today I’ll be sharing these secrets with you. 

But first, why is the speed of your WordPress e-commerce site important? Apart from Google rankings, which is all important when it comes to how people find you online, it’s about your customers.

Your customers expect a fantastic experience every time they come to your website.  It has never been easier for your customers to pick and choose the sites they buy from.  You and your competitors may already have the perfect design, but if your site lacks speed you falling behind and here’s the big reason why.

Your customers are spending money on high-speed web connections at home, at work and on their mobile phones. 4G and LTE mobile connections deliver mobile websites at incredible speeds.  Your customers expect your smart website to load fast because every other website they use loads fast. They easily tire of websites that take too long to load. In the end, if your website is too slow, they will go somewhere else.

 

Here’s the first secret we share with our clients – A faster website will give you more customers

Not every visitor who comes to your online store is going to buy from you. Some come to look around and get a feel for your products and services.  Some come to price compare.  Others come to buy.  it comes to visitors to your online store.

According to analytics and conversion rate optimization specialists Invesp, the average e-commerce conversion for websites is somewhere between 2 and 3 percent.  For websites viewed on a desktop is 3.83%. Tablets see an average conversion rate of 3.84%, while on mobiles sales conversion drops to 2.03%. That means for every 100 visitors your site manages to attract, on average only three of them will convert into a paying customer.  If your website is getting 500 unique visitors a day, you could reasonably expect 15 sales a day.  

Alarmingly, the data scientists tell us that as much as 40% of all traffic to your website can be lost if your website takes more than three seconds to load. This means that the success or ultimate failure of your business is a numbers game. 

Now imagine if you could nearly double the number of visitors to your website, just by improving your website’s speed.  You could be turning that 15 sales a day to 25 overnight!

 

Here’s the second secret – Increasing website speed increases your total sales.

Simple SEO strategy tells you that lifting your search engine rank by just a few places will increase the number of people who find your site.  

One factor Google places importance on is how fast your site loads. If your website is slow to load, Google sees this as a poor visitor experience and may rank it lower than better-performing sites. Your website speed, therefore, impacts what page your site is listed on.

By lifting your results even a few places, you could end up on page 1 instead of page 2, powerfully lifting the chance for more people landing on your website.

So in our experience – we see two critical improvements when you improve website speed:

  1. You regain the 40% of people who didn’t reach your site because it loaded too slowly.
  2. You increase your total potential audience, because you’ve increased your search engine rank, and more people are finding your site and clicking through.

It’s an amazingly simple sales multiplier for a small amount of effort. 

If you are selling products or services through your site, you should be sweating over your site speed. It is the most important thing you can do. Find out what is slowing your site down and fix it so you are maximizing the number of people hitting your site. The more conversions you have, the more money you make.

Here’s the third secret – getting faster hosting is not expensive.

Smart website owners who are eager to gain more customers are switching from Shared Server hosting. They are happy to spend a little more money to get better website performance because they understand why server speed is so important to their success.

Many of my clients are cashing in on the speed breakthroughs, and seeing sometimes exponential lifts in customer numbers – all because they are focusing on satisfying their customer’s expectation of a fast running website.

They are focusing on the customer experience first.

My clients know that spending a little bit more on dedicated Virtual Server Hosting is an investment in their long term success. 

 

Why Woocommerce needs more…

Woocommerce is one of the world’s most popular open-source e-commerce platform. It may surprise you to know that nearly 40% of the world’s online business sales flow through Woocommerce. Just like WordPress, it can be extended within its own plugin-based add-ons that allow you to pick and choose the functionality you need to customize your site. New payment gateways, parcel tracking, and comparison pricing can all be added with plugins.

These features make your installation much heavier than a standard WooCommerce site and it requires more memory and resources to be able to run effectively.

If you are using a shared server, then your website needs to compete for resources. There can often be more than 1000 websites on a shared hosting server. If you run a resource-intensive site like Woocommerce, you only have a thin slice of the total server resources to use. Your site will wait to access your share of those resources, and this results in a slower website. It may not stall your website, but it will mean that your site isn’t super fast at processing client orders. 

That’s why technically a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a better option.

Why a Virtual Private Server is the right answer…

A Virtual Private Server gives you your own dedicated memory, storage, and processing on a bigger box. The resources that are allocated to use, are yours to use exclusively. Unlike more expensive Dedicated Servers, a Virtual Private Server’s resources can be increased at any time, simply with a press of a button – so it’s a far more flexible server to expand as your business or resources need to grow.

This instant scaling is one of the best features of Virtual Private Servers, it allows you to start small and grow as demand on your server grows.  If you get a huge uplift in traffic, scale your server up at the press of a button.

When choosing a provider, you want one that offers you a Virtual Private Server with full root access.  All Asporea VPS plans offer this. It’s your guarantee of a reputable provider and that your server isn’t being shared with other sites.

Root access gives you another big benefit – you can get into the backend of the server and modify your hosting environment without waiting for your hosting company to get around to it.

 

You get better security with a Virtual Private Server

Protecting customer security is always a big part of protecting your business’ reputation.  With shared servers, you rely on having good server-neighbors to keep your own data safe. If someone on your server doesn’t update their files, your website and data could be at risk too. With a VPS, only you are using the data, so you’re completely in control of your site’s security. If another site on the VPS gets a virus or suffers a malware attack, it will not spread to you.

Having a VPS installation gives you more options to install SSL certificates, that will avoid browser website security warnings that potentially block traffic to your site. Installing your own custom certificate also provides customers an extra sense of confidence that shopping on your website is safe to do.

 

Virtual Private Servers put you in control…

With you in control of your server and your resources, you have complete control of your website speed. On your own server, you’ll reduce server lag, because you’re not waiting for another site to finish serving a request before getting to yours.

And we’ve left one of the biggest Virtual Private Server advantages until last. With Asporea VPS you can choose your data center.  If your customers come from Asia or Australia, why would you choose a server that is further away in the United States or Europe?

When you choose an Asporea VPS plan you choose your server location.  If you want to be hosted in Australia you can choose our Sydney data center.  If you are in Asia, maybe Singapore or Tokyo is a better option. The choice is yours when you choose a VPS through us.

 
 

What would a Virtual Private Server cost me?

A Virtual Private Server costs a lot less than you’d think. Our general recommendation for a small-business Virtual Private Server for a growing Woocommerce business will cost you about USD$20 per month. This is a web server that exclusively hosts your site, with all allocated server resources exclusively at your disposal. 

As your site grows, these plans scale to allow you to grow cost-effectively. 

 


Moving WordPress to a Virtual Private Server isn’t hard

If you have an existing WordPress or Woocommerce installation you’d like to move to a Virtual Private Server we can do this in just a couple of days, and migrate you for free. To take advantage of the free migration offer we would need access to either a backup of your site or to your site itself for us to take a backup. 

After copying your site to a new server, we give you the opportunity to check the site to ensure that your site meets your expectations in terms of speed improvement. When you tell us, we make the necessary Domain Name changes to point your web address to the new server – making your site live.

AsporeaVPS 1vCPU, 1GB RAM, 25GB SSD, 1TB Transfer

$20 /1 Month
  • Balanced virtual machines with a healthy amount of memory tuned to host and scale applications like blogs, web applications, testing / staging environments, in-memory caching and databases.

AsporeaVPS 2vCPU, 2GB RAM, 60GB SSD, 3TB Transfer

$40 /1 Month
  • Balanced virtual machines with a healthy amount of memory tuned to host and scale applications like blogs, web applications, testing / staging environments, in-memory caching and databases.

AsporeaVPS 4vCPU, 4GB RAM, 160GB SSD, 5TB Transfer

$70 /1 Month
  • Balanced virtual machines with a healthy amount of memory tuned to host and scale applications like blogs, web applications, testing / staging environments, in-memory caching and databases.

Virtual Private Servers make WooCommerce Faster

Considering all the factors, it’s clear to see why VPS is a better choice for your Woocommerce store. With a astronishingly-fast Asporea Virtual Private Server, you could be discovering the tricks others have been taking advantage of today. We will even help you migrate your site for free.

If you’ve got questions about Woocommerce or Virtual Private Servers, or any hosting question – leave it in the comments below, or chat with us.

GDPR and Doing File Sharing Responsibly

In a world now obliged by European GDPR laws, have you considered privacy when it comes to the use of filesharing apps like Dropbox or WeTransfer?

There’s no doubt that File sharing apps are the easiest way to ensure you can keep working when you hit a pesky email quota or a corporate firewall, but can you assure your customers that their data is safe?

GDPR now requires a lot of businesses globally. You need to be in control of any customer data you hold. You need to know where it is, who has access, how it’s used and also provide the ability for people to review their data and delete it under certain circumstances.

How would you go about ensuring a file sharing site like Dropbox or WeTransfer, with data centres all around the world, actually have the ability to locate all copies of your shared client data and remove it? They may be able to remove it from their systems, but what about the backup from two weeks ago?

This is just one of many reasons why it’s a bad idea to store, share or transmit personal data on a public file sharing system.

WHO IS IN CONTROL OF YOUR DATA?

When you share a link from Dropbox (or any site on a public cloud) by email, every person who has access to that link can see the file you shared.

If your email is intercepted, or forwarded you have no control over who can see that file, whether it is downloaded, or who it is sent to after that. 

You’ve lost control.

Even if you are careful, what about your employees?  Are they going to tell you they’ve just broken your internal policy to get that file to a third party and finalise the deal? Have they put any rigour into how that file should be treated after the information has been used?

When your employees are in control of your data, this is a huge liability for you. Even if you trust your employees to do the right thing, respect your company policies and be particularly security conscious.

Not having control can cost you, big time.

If you handle any data from a European entity, you must know and choose where your data is stored. Any company handling personally identifiable data is required to be GDPR compliant. If there is any incident, a company can be fined 20 million euros or 4% of a company’s annual revenue – whichever is greater.  Ouch.

WHERE IS YOUR DATA STORED

When it comes to storing data, choosing a company based on location is not enough.  The location of servers matters more. In some countries governments can get access to all data stored on all the servers stored inside the country. You need to have confidence that wherever your data is physically located, it will not be accessed by foreign governments. If you don’t get a handle on this you will be breaking compliance rules without even knowing it, and big fines will follow.

Currently in many countries around the world, organisations tend to store their data with a handful of large companies.

This means that customer data – the stuff you are charged with protecting – could be stored on a few servers, of a few companies.

These companies are big targets of hackers and they can create a big impact if they are attacked. Every person or company who relies on being able to access or keep their data safe becomes compromised.

Even though these companies likely have the biggest and best security teams patrolling their servers and network, the risk is always larger because sheer size and reputation makes them a juicy target for malicious attacks.

WOULD YOU KNOW IF YOUR DATA WAS HACKED?

The efforts of hackers are not going unnoticed. You only need to look at the news to hear about how large companies have been targeted by hackers. Recently British Airways, Facebook and even Cathay Pacific have been in the news for hacking events.

Every server can be hacked, whether it’s by malicious people using vulnerabilities to get access to a system, or through phishing emails sent to your employees.

The thing is when you are hacked, you need to know about it as quickly as possible so that you can take action, limit potential damage and meet your reporting obligations under GDPR.

Historically, big companies haven’t been that great at warning customers after a hack, preferring to keep the hack concealed rather than lose face in front of their customers.

In reality, the only way to be 100% certain that your data is safe, is to be able to monitor the data yourself.

IS DECENTRALISATION THE ANSWER?

So if you can’t use the big guys to store and share your data is private cloud the answer? Recently a lot of movement has been happening in the private cloud space, using secure open-source software.

Recently Nextcloud started to solve this problem. Nextcloud is highly secure open source software that emulates Dropbox – except that all the data is stored on your own server.

Private clouds are essentially data stores that are in your control.

So by setting up a Nextcloud server through your hosting company, you can be assured that it is secured with your own protection and security.  By self-hosting, you can make your installation more secure than a publicly hosted one, because you can limited access to a range of known IP addresses. If you don’t have an IP address from within the organization you won’t be able to get in. The German Federal Government’s Bundescloud runs on a Nextcloud server, 100% firewalled from the internet.

Nextcloud is more than just file sharing. Because it’s hosted privately, you can add more apps and create an eco-system around your files – strengthening the bond between your employees and Nextcloud while putting the tools your employees need in their hands.

Everything from open source office applications, to mind mapping tools and even note sharing tools similar to Evernote are all available to install and distribute alongside Nextcloud. And if there’s not an app available, your tech teams can even install their own apps.

TAKING BACK CONTROL IS SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK

The answer lies in taking back control. Control is something public cloud vendors can’t give you. They can give you a polished brand, certifications, and money-back promises, but they can’t guarantee your data will be safe.

Self-hosting remains the most efficient way of staying in control of your business data and keeping your employees and colleagues productive, and your clients happy. Nextcloud gives you what you need to do just that.

NEXTCLOUD AND ASPOREA

Nextcloud private cloud from AsporeaAsporea offers Nextcloud bundled with Asporea Virtual Private Server starting from just USD$10 per month. This will give you a starter package with 25GB of data, fully upgradable at any time.

Speak to our consultants to understand more about how a Nextcloud private cloud on one of our servers could help your business meet their privacy obligations.

Emerging Web Design Trends in 2019

Now a month in to 2019 we are starting to see some emerging trends for web design. Many clients are looking for updates and upgrades. The underlying development tools have changed recently and they’re starting to have an impact on how people see your web presence. Here is what you will see being implemented in 2019.

Everyone knows that websites play a critical role in growing your customer base, generating leads, selling product and even order fulfillment when you sell electronic products. For years now people have been talking about ‘frictionless’ design. Simply put, it’s about removing barriers to those things people want to do.

Already websites should be keeping up with these trends. These include dynamic contact forms that reshape depending on the type of inquiry. Responsive mobile design for ease of viewing on a mobile phone is now essential. It could be a sales process that reduces the number of fields required during checkout. It could be a streamlined payment or customer service approach that includes self help. People not keeping up are already a way behind the curve.

Here are the things we are seeing that could change the look of your site, improve experience, and deliver you better outcomes. But only if they’re implemented well.

Simple, Clean Design

Whether you’re having a development team build your website, or you’re building it yourself using an online builder like Weebly or Wix you’ll want to investigate a minimalist design. Old websites were jammed full of widgets and features. This year, you’re going to see less of that. Less design elements. Bulky web pages take longer to load and can actually distract visitors from what you want them to do.

We’re seeing a lot more white space to allow people to read the small amount of text you’ve carefully written. Wordy copy is now being reviewed multiple times to deliver the same meaning with less words. Bright colours are also in, accompanied by simple two dimensional illustrations that convey meaning.

Web Designers are giving more consideration to the visitor journey. Sometimes spreading content over several pages, that would have previously been jammed into one.

The effort behind this new design approach delivers clear, uncluttered web pages that are easy to navigate and have a clear purpose. Importantly they load faster, which reduces bounce rates and increases clicks on your important call to action buttons.

Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs perform like video, holding the visitors attention more than an image would.

Whether you love Animated GIFs or gag everytime you see them on a page, probably depends on what decade you were born. The emerging group of internet users – those who spend the most time and disposable income – on the internet, have lower attention spans. Web design needs to work harder at holding their attention. Attention is held with web designs that use animated pictures that deliver a message.

Animated GIFs perform like video, holding the visitors attention more than a static image. They have the dual purpose of keeping visitors entertained, while delivering an idea or emotion in a summary form. GIFs are fast to load and are compatible with all browsers and platforms including mobile devices, which are increasingly becoming the most important device to plan your site for.

Chatbot and AI-enabled customer support

Customer support and access to real people has always been an important component of good online operations. It is now impacting how web design unfolds. The existing focus on self-help tools has transformed into chatbots that deliver customer service for you. And it is a feature now sets websites apart from the competition.

Chatbots in particular give your visitors a focus point to ask questions and get directions. They should be able to answer 80% of the simple questions. Things like, where do I find your most recent widget, how much does X cost, where can I get a quote, how long does it take to.

chatbots can be programmed easily to hand-off enquiries when the questions get too hard, so your website visitors are never far away from a real person.

Even businesses with limited resources can deploy chatbot services from third-party providers that will give you a chatbot presence, and encourage your visitors to interact with ‘you’. These chatbots can be programmed easily to hand-off enquiries when the questions get too hard, so your website visitors are never far away from a real person.

Businesses deploying chatbots find their support costs reducing. Chatbots handle the bulk of simple questions. Team members can then focus on the more challenging issues. Brand affinity strengthens too, as customers feel comfort in being able to reach your business easily.

Many of these features are relatively easy to implement. We are here to help. Talk to our development team about your requirements. We’d can guide you to find the right web design solutions. Solutions that will grow revenues and improve your customer satisfaction.

We look forward to chatting with you soon.

7 Things We Want to Know Before We Build Your Website

Before we start work on any project, we want to get to know you.

Every good web designer, will have a few key questions up their sleeve. Incisive questions. Ones that cut to the heart of the matter. Questions that will tell them everything they need to know about you, your industry and your business. Only when they know the answers to these questions they will be in a powerful position to understand what they should be building for you – in terms of a viable, productive, and profitable website. Here’s our top seven questions.

Describe what your business does?

The first question we ask our clients is “What does your business do?” We need to understand our clients business, the products and services they sell, how many employees they have, and their biggest challenges. We want to understand how that business operates and what they value.

Knowing this information tells us a lot about what features the website must have, how we can go above and beyond by solving business challenges, and importantly how our design will reflect their brand.

Do you already have a website?

Is it an important question? You bet it is. It can be the difference between a complete redesign or a touch-up. If we didn’t ask this question we could be costing our clients far more money than they need to spend.

From a design perspective, we love this question for another reason. It opens a conversation about what they love and hate about their existing site – and from our client’s perspective, what would make it better.

What are your business and website goals?

Knowing our client’s goals for the website allows us to satisfy their needs. Website goals are likely to be things like increase website sales leads, reduce the number of support calls, increase new product sales. But at Asporea we like to take it a step further. By asking about their business goals, as well as their website goals, we can get a picture of what they need now, and also anticipate what they may need in the future.

Thinking this way changes our perspective dramatically. Instead of being a web developer, our focus transforms into solution provider and business partner. We find that as we buy into our client’s vision of the future, we can work with them to build that future together.

Who do you want to attract?

Learning who your customer wants to visit their website, is a crucial piece of the design puzzle. In order to get results for our clients, we need to know all about the specific audiences, so that the site can be tailored with them in mind. Everything from pictures, language and the way content is written will depend on who is expected to read it. It directly influences the design.

What makes you unique?

We want to uncover our client’s Unique Selling Point (or USP). This is the thing that makes them stand out from the competition. When we know this, we can emphasise it throughout your website and make it stand out.

What is your unique selling point? Ours is wanting to look after our clients with the big and the small tasks – surprisingly this is something many design companies fail to do. We are experts at looking after orphaned customers who have been neglected on the little jobs that come after the big design work is finished.

Who are your top 3 competitors?

Who do we need to beat? That’s what we want to know. Marketing is all about getting a bigger slice of the pie, and that’s what we do best. We’ll design your website with your customer in mind, and help you create offers that are bigger and better than they’ll find anywhere else.

What website features do you need?

When clients come to us, they’ve often got an idea of what they want on their new site. Going beyond how the site looks, to how it works, and even imagining new functions that are quite unique to each customer. That’s the value we bring. Popular features could include sign-up bars to get email subscribers, links to your social media sites, videos that feature you and your business. All of these are powerful tools for building your brand and your followers, and it’s important to choose them wisely.

Template sites like WIX give you nice looking design, but really lack the insight into your business that a good web designer can bring. You can get all the features that are available in site builders like WIX and many more to give your design an edge beyond your competition.

Everything is fun, but not everything is useful. A good website developer can also be a great sounding boarding to ensure that you’re staying true to your goals. After all, your website is about getting your visitors to do something, right?

What are you going to do? Our developers are here to help you get more out of your website. Is it time? Maybe you’ve got a question or want to talk something through. We’re here to help. Just click and fill out some details and we’ll be happy to start a conversation with you about getting your site just right.

Email Harvesting and Protecting Yourself from Spam

Email is such an important part of our daily lives We use it for work, play and to run our businesses. Spam messages are annoying and time-wasting.  How do we stop the junk emails that inevitably ends up in our inbox?

What is Spam?

Spam is unsolicited junk email that floods our inboxes. Some of it is advertising, but much of it contain viruses or links designed to steal your personal or business information. Many people are often unaware of how their email became public in the first place. Sometimes people receive emails that look like they’ve come from their own email address.

People often ask “How did they get my email address?” It’s a good question and it starts a conversation on the topic of email harvesting. Email harvesting is the bulk collection of email addresses for sending unsolicited emails in bulk.

Spammers use scripts called ‘spambots’ to scour the web looking for email addresses. Social networks, blog comments and forums are all good sources.

Databases store long lists of email addresses that have been harvesting using website scraping tools.  Spammers buy these lists and you can often see these offered for sale, in some of the spam messages you get.  Once scraped emails are sold to spammers you can guarantee junk mail is on the way. Of course, most harvesting activities are illegal as well as using addresses gathered this way.

How spammers get your email address

Spammers often buy these lists from others, or harvest their own emails using bots. Some spend time attacking websites to harvest the email address listed (which is a good reason to keep your own website secure). Some spammers guess emails, and then send a test to see if you respond.

These might look like an urgent alert from a bank, or a delivery company asking you to click on a link and take an action. However, clicking one of these emails confirms your email address immediately.

It’s nearly impossible to get off a spammers list. Your best defense is staying off the list in the first place.

Protecting your email address from spam

Here are some steps you can take to ensure to protect your email address:

  1. Don’t publish your email address on your website. Instead of publishing your email, install a contact script, which will send you messages from your webpage directly to your email, without exposing your web address.
  2. Consider a commenting email address as part of an email defence strategy. If you comment on blog posts or use social media websites a lot consider a web mail address. You can get these from Google, Hotmail or Yahoo and it will protect your primary email from harvesting.
  3. Implement spam filters and server level monitoring. Asporea offer incoming email filtering as a monthly subscription, for people whose email addresses have been harvested. Email filtering offers peace-of-mind and relief from a never ending barrage of spam, removing it before it reaches your inbox.
  4. Deploy anti-spam plugins to your WordPress site. Plugins like: Email Address Encoder are very useful for converting email address and mailto links into coded entries that cannot be read by spambots.

The best defence against spammers is to not allow your address to be harvested in the first place, but if you’re suffering from spam overload then consider our incoming mail filtering service for USD$2.99/month.

Tell me your experiences with spam in the comments below.

Should I migrate to WordPress 5 Gutenberg?

With the most recent upgrade of WordPress – to 5.0 and above – you’ll notice some big changes to the way you create pages and content. Newer versions of WordPress have now incorporated block based design, which is very different to the WYSYWIG editor of the previous versions. I wanted to take some time to talk about the differences so you can make an informed choice about which way to go.

What are blocks?

Blocks in WordPress are basically a new way for WordPress to arrange the editable content inside your blog posts and pages. Where you previously had a content editor, you now insert blocks.

Instead of being one linear container of text and images on your page, WordPress blocks gives you the flexibility to assemble a page or post containing multiple blocks. It may be helpful to think of blocks as a container for a section of content.

You may have separate blocks for your headings, images and paragraphs on each page. The advantage of blocks is the ease of movement. You can easily rearrange blocks with a drag-and-drop movement.

As well as text blocks, there are many other blocks you can add to your posts and pages in WordPress 5.0 and above. Here is a list of features you can get immediately from the new version.

  • Heading
  • Form
  • Shortcode
  • Image
  • Gallery
  • List
  • Quote
  • Pullquote
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Cover image
  • File
  • Custom HTML
  • Code
  • Preformatted
  • Table
  • Button
  • Columns
  • Page break
  • Separator
  • Spacer
  • Content embeds (e.g. Twitter, Youtube)

Benefits of using blocks

One thing you may notice about this list, is that many of these blocks were previously selectable items on your WYSYWIG editor toolbar. The advantage of blocks is that it gives you more visual control about where these are laid out on your page, without needing to know complex style codes.

As well as this foundation set within WordPress, third party plugin coders are creating their own blocks for WordPress, providing even more functionality.

In using the Blocks functionality, one of the most apparent benefits is the control over copy-and-pasted text. Using the old editor, you would always have styling issues especially when taking content from other formats like Microsoft Word. This is eliminated with blocks.

Blocks are optional

The good news is that using Blocks is optional in WordPress 5.0. You can ignore blocks altogether – and you can even turn them off in your settings if you would prefer the Classic editor experience. Simply go to Settings > Writing and you’ll find the option there. You also have a handy option to choose on-the-fly which editor you would prefer to use, per post or page. Those who are familiar with Elementor will have experienced this feature already.

Compatibility with other Block Builders

The WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg release has had a long development runway, and there has been vast consultation with the development community. This means that commercial developers have had time to understand the changes and prepare for them. In our experience we are seeing broad compatibility with existing commercial page builders like Elementor and BeaverBuilder. This means that if you’re already working with these content platforms, your transition should be smooth.

The question that is on many people’s minds is whether you will need products like Elementor when you have the Gutenberg release of WordPress. For those of you who are keen to understand the differences, this article may help.

The early calls are that they will basically do the same thing, but Elementor may do it with more finesse. And of course it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison either. WordPress 5.0 has been around for a month or two, while Elementor (especially the Pro version) has more controllable element features purely because it has been developed for much longer.

Summary

So where does that leave us. The new Blocks editor for WordPress is probably worth trying out, even if you are currently using Page Builder software. What you’ll likely find however is that existing page builders probably offer more control over the way your page looks (for now).

If you are migrating to WordPress 5.0, do ensure you have a backup in-case you need to roll back, and of course we are on hand to help if you need it.

5 Ways to Repel a Brute Force Attack

Brute Force attacks are a way of guessing your password. Hackers use automated ‘robots’ to discover username and password combinations to exploit your website. Here are some useful tips that we can all use to protect your website.

During a Brute Force attack, a hacker will systematically check an unlimited number of passwords until a correct combination of username and password is found and your site becomes compromised. Some servers can go through one-thousand combinations of username and password per minute – which means that these hacking robots can cover a lot of ground quickly.

What this means for anyone owning a website, or anywhere on the web, is that if you use a weak password then it will be guessed fast. Weak passwords are commonly used phrases, that are usually tried first by automated brute force bots: ‘qwerty’, ‘Password’, ‘123456’, ‘letmein’, ‘admin’.

In recent study, nearly 10% of the population have used a weak password at some stage. If you are one of them, then it’s time to change your password fast. You can beat brute force attackers, and keep your website secure by following a few important principles:

  1. Use strong and complex passwords, with a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols.
  2. Don’t ever reuse your password across multiple systems. Once your password has been compromised in one location, an attacker will have access to any system using the same combination of username and password.
  3. Never use ‘admin’ as your username.
  4. Use software to limit the number of login attempts. Such software can ban hacks from an IP address, or at least limit their progress by giving users a time-out for failed password attempts.
  5. Use ‘two factor’ authentication – this is a combination of password an access token. Using a tool like Google Authenticator to give you a unique code to access your website, in addition to your password.

Installing security software can help you as well. There are a number of packages that can be installed and configured to reduce the impact of brute force attacks on your server.

 

Social engineering, like this example in the video, is another very effective way of learning your password. So beware of tricks and never give away any personal information to strangers, especially when there’s a camera pointing in your face. If you feel you could be caught easily off-guard, have a phrase handy like “If I told you that then my password wouldn’t be secure.”

There are simple ways to protect yourself from brute force attacks. When you purchase a WordPress Protection Plan from Asporea, we include software that will increase security as well as limit the impact of brute force attacks on your server. Packages start from $14.95 per month and also include free core, plugin, and theme updates and regular off-site backups.

A Better Way to Build Websites

Websites designers approach building websites in many different ways – some are easier than others and some more efficient. In this post I’d like to share why we like to build websites using an Agile design method, and then share how this approach benefits the clients who work with us.

Traditional website designers work on a technical model that uses requirements upfront to develop a site. It’s generally based around what they think you need – and it will deliver you a site that is functional and according to what you specify.

This works for people who have a very good idea of what they want, or who are happy to be steered by their developer down a path they know nothing much about. The process works to deliver you a website, but how does it fit with your overall business plan?

We think there’s a better way

We feel there’s a better way than fulfilling the demands of a requirements document – and it’s about putting our clients at the centre of what we do.

At Asporea we work in an Agile way. You may have heard about agile before, but what does it mean and how does it apply to websites? For our clients it means starting with a conversation. We listen to our clients, about their aspirations and hopes for their business and their future.

Understanding where a client wants to go in the future helps us plan for that future today. For our clients it means that whatever we suggest for them now, will continue to fit them in the future.

Our development process revolves around our client

This means that we develop websites differently too. After listening to what our clients have to say (and generally us asking lots of questions along the way), we start to build a prototype of what we think a website might look like for that customer. And for each customer it will look different. Unlike some web companies who start with a template and then try to make that template fit your needs, we build with tools that allow us to design flexibly.

We build with tools that allow complete flexibility – at the core is WordPress, one of the world’s most popular content management systems. This is like our engine room. Depending on the requirements of our clients we may then introduce other plugins like Toolset or Elementor to provide enhanced functionality.

Toolset allows us to fully customise the way WordPress behaves. For some users it can transform a standard WordPress site into a fully functioning travel website including a booking engine. For other customers it can create custom input fields for horoscopes, again for another client collect all the information on house sales and rentals to produce a real-estate website.

We then overlay a tool like Elementor which offers great design features, using a building-block design. With a tool like Elementor we can add or subtract features in a blink, allowing customers to work with us, to finalise a custom design.

 

Elementor allows you to add features like this!

Normally when we work with customers we will produce a home page layout and a standard web page. These pages will be filled with features we think would work for our client. We then present it to the client, to understand more about what they like and what they want to lose. We work together to settle on the final design, bringing the client into the middle of the design process. The end result is a website that our customer’s love because they’ve been integrally involved in the design.

During the process of building many websites over the last twenty years, tools like Elementor have transformed the design process. Rather than presenting a design that you hope the customer will like – we can present ideas that the customers can then shape into their own customised website. It’s an engaging and interactive experience for our designers and our clients.

The other great feature about Elementor is that it can be used to give any WordPress website a facelift. With a suite of building blocks at your fingertips transforming your website from dull-and-dreary to interesting and interactive can be done with a minimum of expense.

Our team are most proficient in working with Elementor and WordPress. Contact us to today to chat about your website requirements. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your next WordPress project.

How to build loyal website visitors

Everyone wants a website that generates a lot of buzz, that has lots of visitors that want to buy your products and services – after all that’s why you set it up, right? There are so many sites on the internet, you don’t just need a great website to get noticed, you’ve also got to put hard work into the marketing of that site to ensure that you have a constant flow of visitors. For first time website owners, getting these next steps right can be a steep learning curve.

Once you’ve launched your website, the challenge for all new website owners is how to generate traffic to your site. Search engine optimisers will tell you that you need to develop a content marketing strategy, and that’s true, but as you’ll see as you read on, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Start with great content

Every great website needs strong content.  Every page should be crisply written in a way that feels like you are directly speaking to those people you are trying to attract. If you’ve never thought about your audience before, now is the time to start. Understanding the types of people you want to visit your site is the first pillar of your marketing foundation. Once you know who is visiting your site, you can start writing web pages, blog posts and social media comments that relate to them and their needs.  Anything else is just random and noisy.

If you don’t have it already, start with building up some personas for different types of audiences. For example, are you trying to attract women who are coming back into the workplace after raising a family?  You would write very differently to a working mother compared to a business man in his forties.  Again, if you were writing to students the language and the needs would be different again. Never assume a one-size-fits-all approach to your writing.

Write content that meets a need

Building out a content strategy that meets the need of these audiences is critical to keep them coming back. Your website visitors will largely be searching for sites like yours to solve a problem. Understanding those users, and their problems will help you shape content that positions you and your business as a solution to their problem. Notice the contrast, it’s not about what you can sell them, it’s about how you can help them solve a problem. Understanding this nuance is so important to getting your content right.

Build a content strategy

Once you know your audience and their needs, you are in a position to start writing in a more personalised way. Creating a content marketing strategy involves lists of topics – think of them as blog post titles – that attract readers to find answers to their problems.

Your regular blog posts should answer problems for your readers and be written in a way that people would search for those answers. By having keywords in your post that people would look-up in Google, you’ll attract more searchers to your website.

Once you have your content marketing strategy, then you need to get your blog posts written. You may choose to do this yourself, or you could have a professional writer do it for you. Many new website owners try to cut corners with this and employ virtual assistants in the Philippines or India to write content for them at $5 an hour, or less, but this could be a false economy.

In my opinion you should buy the best writer you can afford. Why? This is an investment in gaining people’s trust and helping more people find your website. If they find you, and build trust with you they are more likely to buy what you are selling.

Think of your own experience. How quickly do you form a negative opinion of a company when they have a bad website riddled with spelling mistakes? You quickly move on right? Would you really buy from them?

Your own experience confirms what I’m telling you – it’s all about building trust with your audience. Don’t cut corners and sell yourself short with badly written content. If you can’t do it yourself, or you don’t have the time, find a writer who has written successfully on your topics and engage them to write a series of posts. It costs money to buy quality. Invest!

Make social connections

Once you’ve made the investment in good writing, use social media to get your message out there. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn may be good places to start posting your content. Don’t forget to use #hashtags that complement your topic. This is a good way for your social content to be found, even if they don’t know you.

Build yourself a Facebook page (which is different from a personal page) for your website or business, and a twitter account to start sending your messages. Brand these pages to look consistent with your website and use them to interact with your website visitors.

The idea with your social media is to draw people towards your website, not from your website to Facebook or Twitter.

Build a marketing list

Finally, make sure you’re using a marketing list and regularly communicating with your customers. We recommend our PDQ solution as an inexpensive alternative to some of the big players like Mailchimp or ConstantContact because it gives you a full service solution with list management, campaigns, drag and drop editors and autoresponders for less than half the price of these bigger players.  With PDQ you can start your list of the first 2500 users and send emails for free.

If you need help establishing your digital or content marketing strategy speak to us. We’re happy to help.

Using Colour to Modify Website User Behaviour

Choosing the right colours for your website isn’t just about choosing colours you like. There is a whole aspect of psychology that examines how colour makes people feel about your brand, and prompts them to respond. Colour can influence your website visitors with non-verbal communication, and there I want to give you some tools to choose the best colours that will get your user’s behaving the way you want.

Cultural association of colour

Fistly, you need to be aware that different cultures interpret colours in different ways. Take read and green for example, globally this indicates ‘stop’ and ‘go’ like in a traffic light. But if you are anglo-saxon you might interpret the colour red as perhaps representing concepts of sin, betrayal or anger.

In Chinese cultures, the meaning is quite different. Red is quite an auspicious colour associated with festivals. At Chinese new year, elders give children gifts of money in red envelopes so the colour has quite a different meaning altogether.

Colour elicits behaviour

So if you want more people to click a button on your website, to subscribe or buy some goods, what colour do you choose? You might intuitively think that green is the right colour, because green means ‘go’ in many countries because of the association with traffic lights.

If you think this way, you’d be wrong. Independent testing of the same web page with a red button and a green button shows that the red button is chosen 2/3 more often than the green equivalent.

Why? Because red is a vibrant, more visible colour, and associated with passion and action.

The psychology of colour

Colour has a powerful way of evoking emotion.  Colours like green can make you feel peaceful and healthy.  Yellow is a friendly colour, while orange is quite energetic.  Here’s a list of the primary colours and the emotions that can be attached:

RED – Passion, Vibrant, Stimulating

PINK – Calm, Love, Feminine

PURPLE – Success, Wisdom, Royalty

ORANGE – Energy, Enthusiasm, Fun

YELLOW – Friendly, Cheer, Warmth

BROWN – Down to earth, Simple, Dependable

GREEN – Nature, Health, Peace

BLACK – Exclusive, Prestige, Luxury

WHITE – Innocence, Purity, Practical

BLUE – Trustworthy, Secure, Responsible

Now take a look at some of the most common worldwide brands and consider the emotions and subliminal messages they could be trying to communicate to you through the careful use of colour.

Now you understand a bit more about colour, how is this going to influence your website design?

7 Reasons You Should Use Asporea CDN

It is certainly surprising to us, how many customers don’t realise why they need a Content Delivery Network (CDN). To us CDNs are like the swiss army knife of website performance and they do a lot more than speed up content delivery. Today I want to share my thoughts on why you should be using Asporea CDN to get ahead.

If you’re not sure what a CDN is, then read our article here, which explains what it is and how it works. Most top name websites you visit these days is using some form of Content Delivery Network because they need to serve content to their visitors quickly and efficiently.

The size of web pages is growing. With the introduction of new responsive theme website and page builders means that the size of the average web page has grown dramatically in recent years. In the last eight years, the size of web pages has doubled to more than 2 megabytes. That’s a lot of data to be transferred each time a page is loaded – more than a 200% increase!

1. Improved Performance and Latency

Improving performance and lag associated with distance from server, and web page sizes is the primary reason you’d use a CDN. If your website feels sluggish or some visitors have complained that your site is slow to load, then you need Asporea CDN to speed up your site quickly and simply. You’ll see an immediate improvement as our recent tests show. We recently ran tests using a fresh installation of WordPress using a WordPress standard theme – we found that a visitor in New York would load a page (296K) from our server in Singapore in about 3.29 seconds. When we installed Asporea CDN, we saw a dramatic improvement of 2.19s. This is without any caching or optimisation software installed. With caching and optimisation added the delivery speed dropped to an impressive 1.83s.

You can check the speed of your website from various locations around the world by using the Pingdom Website Speed Test at https://tools.pingdom.com/

2. Traditional Web Hosts Don’t Scale

Increasingly what we’re finding int he industry is that the servers deployed on most shared hosting isn’t up to the task of current website needs. If you’ve had error messages or stern warnings from your web host that your site is using too many resources then you are a prime candidate for Asporea CDN. Media-rich content like video, podcasts and images are served from our Edge servers in multiple locations around the world, effectively doing the heavy lifting for your server in a very inexpensive way. Typically we’d expect to see a CDN installation taking about 70% of server load by distributing media, javascript and other media directly from CDN servers rather than the host web server.

Because CDNs carry most of the data load for your server, this can allow you to save on hosting costs, rather than upgrading to more expensive Virtual Private Server (VPN) or Dedicated Server hosting options.

3. Improved Search Rankings

Having an accelerated website is a critical factor in improving your web rank. As far back as 2010, Google’s algorithms favored fast-loading sites over those that are less responsive.

Image search is another important aspect of your search results. By serving images quickly from your CDN, Google will crawl your images more frequently allowing faster and more frequent indexing. If your pages are loading in two seconds or more you’re a good candidate for more frequent crawling.

4. Asporea CDN is one of the least expensive.

One common objection to getting a CDN is the perception of high cost. This is just not true. While CDNs are an additional cost, the return on investment should be considered alongside your other marketing investments. Where you may not think twice about purchasing internet advertising, or a subscription to a bulk email service, it is surprising to me people quibble over a monthly fee for a fast website.

Think of ignoring CDN as a missed marketing opportunity. You will know yourself, how many times you’ve ignored a slow website. Think of how many sales or lead opportunities you miss because your website isn’t loading fast enough. In most cases it is more than you realize.

5. Improved Reliability

Caching delivers you some degree of protection from your site going down. By decreasing server load by up to 70% your server can tolerate spikes in traffic a lot better. Most web hosts fall over when they’re faced with unsupported heavy traffic loads and Asporea CDN can help you avoid this altogether. Asporea CDN delivers the bulk of the content from our own servers, rather than yours. Because Asporea CDN has 150 edge servers around the world, if one piece of our infrastructure goes down, content gets served from the next best location. This built-in redundancy maintains a harmonious website experience.

6. Denial of service and Security protection

Because a large majority of traffic is being served by our servers, Asporea CDN can help you mitigate denial of service attacks on our 150 edge servers.  We also support SSL natively to ensure that all our content is encrypted and you can use your own SSL including free Let’s Encrypt SSL.

7. Asporea CDN is setup in five steps

Asporea CDN is simple to setup. You can use your own caching plugin like WP Rocket or WP Super Cache and add your CDN details, or our simple CDN helper software.

With a few clicks and entering two pieces of information your CDN will be deployed. There are no complex instructions to follow, or difficult installations. You don’t even need to login to a control panel. We do the heavy lifting for you, so you can set and forget.

For example, if you are running WordPress, you can use the free lightweight Asporea CDN plugin and get your CDN implemented in five simple steps.

  1. Order your CDN package at Asporea CDN to receive your domain handle and API key
  2. Install the Asporea CDN plugin by going to Plugins > Add New
  3. Activate the plugin
  4. Enter your Asporea CDN Unique ID and Asporea CDN API Key
  5. Click Update

Closing

You can see a CDN offers so many benefits apart from dramatic performance enhancement. You’ll start to see SEO and better conversion rates as your website experience improves.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to try a CDN, or you’d like to experience Asporea CDN for the first time, take advantage of our 60-day free trial with the coupon code: FREETRIAL2018. Just follow this link and enter the coupon code at checkout and explore the benefits of Asporea CDN for yourself

Why you need Asporea CDN for WordPress

Asporea CDN Speed

As WordPress Developers and Hosting experts we often get questions from customers about how they can improve the speed of their WordPress site. We often clients to improve performance with optimisation tweaks, however our most common suggestion to improve WordPress is to install a Content Distribution Network (CDN) for the most visible performance and speed improvements.

 

What is a CDN?

A CDN is like a turbo-charger for your website. It operates separately to your hosting to make your website appear faster for visitors – no matter where they are in the world. A CDN is a distribution network. If you are familiar with warehouse distribution it’s a similar concept. Goods are moved from the factory to distribution centres and from there they are shipped to stores. In the same way that warehouses make it simpler and faster to get goods to consumers, a CDN is a data-warehouse that serves website visitors faster, because the content has been move d closer to the end users of your website. So a CDN is a network of servers that are distributed around the world that deliver content (images, video and other files) to website visitors from the closest server to them, rather than from your web server directly.

How does a CDN work?

With standard web hosting a request for a web page comes to your web server. Your web server is housed in a data centre in a single location. When your web server gets a request, all the website information is served from that server. If your server is located in California in the United States, then it will be closer to website visitors in the US, and the site will appear to be fast. Website visitors that are further away from your server – for example if they are in Asia, Australia or Europe – will likely have a slower experience. When you implement a CDN, your website visitors will be automatically redirected to content that is served directly from the closest server in the distribution network, removing any delay because of their distance from the server.

What do customers think of Asporea CDN?

Here are some of the comments we received from customers, who added the Asporea CDN to their WordPress website:

  • Speed – “once the software was installed and I added a few lines of configuration code, the site immediately started displaying faster.”
  • Resilience – “our site is performing better… our site sees more visitors at certain times of day, and during those peak times we are able to handle more traffic, and the site remains fast – it doesn’t slow at all.”
  • Happy users – “we noticed our bounce rate drop. More users are staying on our site for longer, and we think it’s because the site is generally faster and users don’t have to wait for content.”
  • Search ranking – “We worked hard on our search engine optimisation, but after implementing a CDN we got a boost. Google loves us now, after a few weeks we saw our rankings increase, not just on Google but other indexes as well.”

 

Asporea CDN is fast and easy to setup

Asporea CDN is what we use on this site, so you can see the amazing performance it delivers. The Asporea CDN network contains distribution servers in 150 locations around the globe. So no matter where your visitors are, they can be assured your website will be delivered fast. As an added extra our CDN also protects your web server against attacks that would seek to slow your server down. When our network detects an attack, it shuts down requests from those locations so that your server is protected.

Installation of Asporea CDN is one of the easiest to do. You can use your existing caching software (like WP Rocket or WP Super Cache) and add the CDN address we give you. Or you can install our simple WordPress plugin. There are two pieces of information to copy and your Asporea CDN setup is complete. We believe it’s one of the simplest CDN configurations on the planet, because we all enjoy simplicity.

Try Asporea CDN for yourself, free!

We want to make it easy for you to experience how good Asporea CDN really is!  Right now you can enjoy a full sixty-day free trial of Asporea CDN by using the coupon code FREETRIAL2018 at checkout. From there Asporea CDN is only US$10/month. You are never locked into a plan and you can discontinue at any time before the end of the trial period and not be charged. Follow this link to get started.