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WordPress Themes Without the Complexity

wordpressThe Right WordPress Theme for Your Website

There are literally tens of thousands of WordPress themes, and at last glance there were over 11,000 just on Themeforest alone. Others like MOJO Marketplace is a huge marketplace for WordPress themes, services and plugins. They currently offer over 1100 WordPress themes themselves.

cRaZy fast websites

Navigating through all those themes can be daunting, yet at the end of the day, every webmaster just wants a website that is easy to find, immediately captures its visitor’s attention, draws them deeper into the site and performs really, really well. Like cRaZy fast.

Who needs extra complexity?

Who wants to trust their non-profit, e-commerce store or online magazine to just any ol’ theme? Not you, not me, not anyone. Websites are already complicated enough without adding another level or dimension of complexity to the process.

Hostirian allows its clients to install the theme of their choice

This is why Hostirian offers robust themes to its web hosting clients in multiple platforms, and allows them to install any theme of their desire.

One of the reasons we allow for the installation of any theme on our BUSINESS and WORDPRESS DEVELOPER PLANS is to give our clients unlimited flexibility in the design of their sites. The collection of themes that are available have been used by millions of webmasters, website developers, photographers, organizations and creative professionals to present a highly sophisticated appearance to their websites, combined with unparalleled functionality.

We recommend Elementor

Can’t find a theme you love or just want to enhance the one you have? We recommend joining over a million users who use Elementor, the #1 WordPress Page Builder.  It’s significantly faster than other site builders as it allows you to design on the front end with immediate, real-time results. It’s also FREE and OPEN SOURCE, and it does not force you to learn code. Need it to display well across multiple devices? It’s underlying source code is compact and optimized for every device and screen.

Use in combination with your favorite theme

Use Elementor with your customized or favorite theme. Elementor allows you to change your themes and still keep all your designs. Elementor can be used to design any page or custom post type on WordPress.

Design is paramount

As we continue to enhance our web development offerings, we’ll look to emerging trends that promise to deliver the design look and style for real value-add and agility for our clients. Why? Design is a paramount element of any website, regardless of the code or method to create it.

Separate your website from the competition

Every website developer and business owner is forced to compete with their rivals to offer a compelling online user experience, where the intuitiveness and aesthetics of their sites favorably separate them from their competition. In essence, your visitors are judging your site against the site they just left.

What about SEO?

Will the design, functionality, aesthetics and value-add content of your website help you in SERPS (search engine results pages)? Absolutely, YES. Fantastic looking sites are the very basis of incredible digital experiences.

Hostirian is here to help

At Hostirian, we are committed to arming our clients with the information and tools they need to develop the best sites possible. We’re definitively excited and looking forward to all the fantastic looking websites our clients are going to build. As always, we’ll continue to scour the Internet looking for new methods to assist our clients to do what they do best, and that is to run successful businesses.

Avoiding WordPress Pitfalls

Avoiding-WordPress-Pitfalls

My gosh, there must be a thousand tutorials on how to set up WordPress, but most of them miss a few key points that can spell trouble down the line. I’ll list a few of the more important things to look for, but this is far from a complete list.

Poorly written themes and plug-ins can wreak havoc on your website

WordPress core files won’t typically cause any issues unless webmasters don’t keep pace with their revisions, but poorly written themes and plug-ins certainly can and frequently do create havoc. Why?

Not all themes and plug-ins are created equally

Thousands of different individuals and vendors have created plug-ins and built custom themes to improve the functionality and look of WordPress websites. Unfortunately, some are better coded than others, and many do not stay current or compatible with updated versions of WordPress (which we all know happens a LOT).

Before you start performing Internet speed tests, check your plug-ins

When you have, for instance 15 plugins installed on your site, and something bizarre kicks up its crazy head, like response time slowing to a crawl, many times it isn’t the server causing this issue, or the speed of your Internet connection. It’s one plug-in or theme throwing rocks as big as boulders at your site.

Easter Egging

How do you know which one is the culprit? More often than not, unless a Google search uncovers a common problem across multiples sites, the way most recommended is to turn off your plug-ins one by one and re-test. It’s called Easter Egg troubleshooting.

Selecting the right plug-in

When you’re analyzing which plug-in to install, you’ll be presented with its version, the author’s name, when it was last updated, what version of WordPress it requires, which version of WordPress that it’s compatible with, how many active installations there are and its average rating from one to five stars based on total reviews.

You’ll also see its description, installation instructions, frequently asked questions (FAQ), screenshots, reviews and a link to its Homepage.

What to look for

Of course, the most important of these is its description. Does it add functionality to your website? From there, I recommend checking when it was last updated and is it compatible with your current version of WordPress.

What do the reviews say?

Read a few of the 5 star reviews AND the 1 star reviews. Sometimes, a one-star review will point out something that completely disqualifies using it on your site. Some examples:

  • TERRIBLE SUPPORT
  • Extremely slows down MySQL
  • Or the plugin was the main problem on my site.

Don’t forget to check how long ago that review was written. Maybe that issue was addressed in later revisions.

Themes, on the other hand, are a different breed

Just on Themeforest alone, there are over 11 thousand WordPress themes ranging in price from free to over sixty dollars. Most of the themes display their version numbers, and are updated just like WordPress from time to time.

Take note of total sales and comments

Some themes have sold thousands of times, but that doesn’t mean your website will look like any of the others. Most themes are highly customizable.

What you’ll need to look for is whether that theme is high resolution, is it widget ready, what browsers is it compatible with, what software versions of WordPress is it compatible with, what plugins will it work with, is it mobile responsive, is it well documented and what files are included.

Most themes have Live Previews

Absolutely look at some of your prospective themes in live preview mode. Be aware though that the images on that demo are generally not included and only serve as placeholders for presentation purposes.

If on ThemeForest, was the author of that theme an Elite Author

Has that author’s work ever been featured? And do they offer extended support, and if so, at what price? Does that author respond to support requests quickly and are his answers professional and value-add.

Don’t forget categories of themes

Thousands of WordPress themes have been written in different categories such as corporate, retail, entertainment, education, wedding and technology. You name it – there’s a category for it.

Pitfalls – smitfalls! You’ve got this covered now.

PS: Many of the issues created by coders can be overcome by simply hosting your website on an insanely fast web server, like Hostirian’s PCIe NVMe servers. They’re six times faster than SSD servers and many times faster than the server you’re probably using now.

Two free Softaculous scripts that will make your life easier

Softaculous V3Open source software, like the scripts offered by Softaculous, is widely used by companies in a broad range of industries from retail to wholesale, and from finance to automotive. Why? Obviously free helps, but many of these scripts are used by millions of businesses for reasons other than cost. They improve productivity, workflow and a myriad of assorted value-add functionalities across multiple industries.

Over 400 free scripts are available via Softaculous

No, you don’t need to know any code to install these scripts. Softaculous scripts can typically be installed with just one click. We obviously can’t review 400+ scripts here, but we will discuss a couple of popular scripts that are designed to make your life much easier (more in future newsletters).

If you’d like a full list of the scripts that are available via Softaculous, head on over to our Cloud Website page. We’ve divided these scripts into categories like e-commerce, blogs, gaming, ad management and others. Each of these categories can be expanded to display the scripts that are in that category. Each of those is linked to extensive information about that script, including reviews, screenshots, ratings and features.

1First up, an e-Commerce script called PrestaShop

“The PrestaShop e-Commerce Solution was built to take advantage of essential Web 2.0 innovations such as dynamic AJAX-powered features and next-generation ergonomy. PrestaShop guides users through your product catalog intelligently and effortlessly, turning intrigued visitors into paying customers.”

We’ve selected to feature PrestaShop based on it’s popularity and rating, as it has scored 4.52 stars out of a possible 5 from 2452 voters. What we hear quite frequently from entrepreneurs/solopreneurs are queries about launching online stores. What differentiates PrestaShop from other shopping programs is its front and back office features. 

Front-office

  • Featured products on homepage
  • Top sellers on homepage
  • New items on homepage
  • ‘Free shipping’ offers
  • Cross-selling (Accessories)
  • Product image zoom
  • Order out-of-stock items
  • Customer subscription & user accounts
  • Payment by bank wire
  • Google Checkout module
  • Cash-On-Delivery (COD)
  • Pre-configured for Paypal
 Back-office

  • Unlimited categories & subcategories, product attribute combinations, product specs, images, currencies, tax settings, carriers & destinations
  • Real-time currency exchange rates
  • Inventory management
  • Unlimited languages & dialects
  • 100% modifiable graphic themes
  • Newsletter contact export
  • Alias search
  • SSL encryption
  • Visitors online
  • Customer groups

Of course, if you’re selling to a local market, you wouldn’t need unlimited languages and dialects, but good to know that’s available. Being pre-configured for PayPal is huge, simply because PayPal is a highly recognizable payment solution trusted by millions worldwide.

On the flip side, you’ll likely have to purchase several (often expensive) add-on modules to integrate different software programs to add functionality to Prestashop. If you have limited tech knowledge, you might consider investing in a web developer to help you through the rough spots. The good news is that once it’s set up, day-to-day operations are a breeze.

2Next up is a customer support script called osTicket

“osTicket is a widely-used open source support ticket system. It seamlessly integrates inquiries created via email and web-based forms into a simple easy to use multi-user web interface. Easily manage, organize and archive all your support requests and responses in one place while providing your clients with accountability and responsiveness they deserve.

osTicket is an attractive alternative to higher-cost and complex customer support systems; simple, lightweight, reliable, open source, and easy to setup and use. The best part is, it’s completely free.”

osTicket ranks 4.6 stars out of 5 based on 225 voters, essentially because it simply works AND it’s free.

Its features:

Web-based Platform : osTicket is a web-based multi-user customer support platform. No local installation required. Access it anytime – from anywhere.

Customer Portal : All support requests and responses are archived online. User can login using email and ticket ID. No user account or registration required to submit a ticket.

Autoresponder : Configurable automatic reply sent out when a new ticket is opened or a message is received.

Email Integration : Tickets can be created via email, online forms or phone (created by staff). Flexible configuration and mapping.

Role-based Access : Control staff’s access level based on assigned groups, departments and teams.

Collision Avoidance : Ticket locking mechanism to allow staff to lock tickets during response and avoid conflicting responses.

Ticket Assignment : Assign tickets to a staff or a teams. Assignment notes are logged as internal notes.

Ticket Filters : Apply conditional rules to route incoming tickets to the right departments or staff members, and action triggers.

Service Level Agreements : SLA support allow you to track tickets and due dates without the hassle. Get overdue alerts and notices on missed due dates, and priority escalation.

Ticket Transfer : Transfer tickets between departments to make sure it’s being handled by the correct staff.

Due Dates : Set due dates on individual tickets and overwrite default grace period. Get overdue alerts and notices on missed due dates.

Alerts & Notices : Staff and clients are kept up to date with email alerts. Configurable and flexible settings.

Dashboard & Reports : Get system overview and basic historical statistics on tickets count and status per department, staff and help topics.

Canned Responses : Predefined responses for frequently asked questions. Ticket variables supported for personalized responses.

Internal Notes : Add internal notes to tickets for staff. Activity logs let you see events or what actions have been taken, when, and by whom.

Attachment Support : Allow web or emailed attachments. Configurable file type whitelisting to enhance security.

Email Templates : Manage and configure email templates used for auto-reply, alerts, notices and responses. Ticket variables supported for personalized messages.

One review by a Guest says, “It just worked out of the box. It does all the basics extremely well and is highly stable and reliable. I have a small support team (including contractors) and this product does all the things I need and does them very nicely. Highly recommend you give it a try, I am confident you won’t be disappointed.”

Other than being FREE which obviously helps keep your cost down, it offers enough features to run a decent sized business support department successfully.

Set Featured Image

Setting up a featured image for a post or page is quick and easy; to do so, locate the featured image box* on your editor page, and select Set Featured Image. When you’ve done so, it will bring up a page from where you will be able to drag-and-drop files, or select them straight off of your hard drive, to select the wanted image.
You can also choose from images that are in your media library, if you already have it added there. 

After you have selected the image, you will have options available to either edit the image or delete it if needed. Once you have finished selecting the right image and editing it to perfection, you can preview your changes or go ahead and publish the page/post with the image viewable to the public.

 

*If you are having difficulties locating this, it should be on the right hand side of the page. You may need to scroll down a bit to find it.