Category Archives: Wordpress

New WordPress Care Packages

WordPress sites are great if you want to keep your content updated – but for security and ongoing functionality you also have to keep WordPress itself updated, keep all the plugins up to date and make sure you take regular backups.

All this ‘under the hood’ stuff takes time and can go wrong if you are not 100% sure what you are doing. With this in mind we have now formalised our range of care packages, from basic bronze to full fat gold.

See below to find out which one is most suitable for you.

 

Bronze WP Care Package

Cost: £15/month or £165 per annum

Most suitable if you are a ‘hands on’ type

Scope:

  • Basic site hosting and technical support
  • Weekly content and database backups
  • Client keeps WordPress and all plugins updated
  • 30 min/month maintenance time allocated

Note: If you only take out basic Bronze package and the site is on our servers then you are obliged to keep it maintained and  secure

 

Silver  WP Care Package

Cost: £30/month or £330 per annum

Best value package for most clients

Scope:

  • Site hosting and support
  • Support for content/layout issues
  • Weekly content and database backups to a remote location
  • Backup Restoration if required
  • WordPress core updates
  • Plugin Updates
  • Premium  anti-spam plugin installed
  • 1 hour/month maintenance time allocated

 

Gold  WP Care Package

Cost: £40/month or £450 per annum

Full fat option – no worries, ever

Scope:

  • Site hosting and support
  • Support for content/layout issues
  • Weekly content and daily database backups to two locations
  • Backup Restoration if required
  • WordPress core updates
  • Plugin Updates
  • Plugin conflict issues dealt with if necessary
  • Premium anti-spam plugin installed
  • Malware monitoring and removal
  • CSS tweaks to theme to change appearance
  • 90 minutes/month maintenance time

 

For more info on our WordPress services see our new WordPress site at webcraftwp.uk

Wow, it’s been a long time . . . part 1

Too busy to blog, and anyway we have a Facebook page now . . . 

Still working away, almost entirely with WordPress now.

Here’s just a few of the sites we’ve completed or redesigned over the last twelve months.


whsIn July 2016 we completed the conversion of West Highland Sailing’s website to WordPress.

With over fifty pages, the site is bursting with information about the company, the boats and the canal and surrounding countryside.

 

Zoomable charts of the canal, booking forms, availability calendars, downloadable PDFs of all the major documents and lots and lots of really great photos.


kkSeptember saw the publication of the Kold Kronicles website, a site for the readers and fans of a new series of groundbreaking fantasy novels.

The author was particularly interested in the blogging side of WordPress, and is using it to good effect to keep in touch with his fan base.

 


 

Mobilegeddon?

mobilegeddon3What does Google’s new algorithm mean for your business?

Since the 21st of last month (April 2015) Google will – for searches made from mobile devices only – reward sites that are deemed to be ‘mobile-friendly’ with higher ranking for the same search terms as non-mobile-friendly sites.

 

So what?

If your traffic mostly comes from desktop, laptop or tablet users then don’t panic – your search rankings will not be affected. However, it is worth remembering that approximately 60% of web traffic is currently driven by mobile devices.

 

How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?

Simples. Go to https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and plug in the URL of your site

 

Help! My site is not mobile-friendly. What can I do?

Firstly, don’t panic. Remember, searches  that are not from phones will not be affected.

But – we recommend that you consider updating your site in the not too distant future to use a responsive design that will look good across all platforms.

 

How can I do that?

Just ask us for a quote. We will set up a new WordPress site for you using a responsive design, and transfer your existing content.

How much will it cost?

How long is a piece of string? It depends on the size and functionality of your existing site. Roughly, it will probably cost as much or a little more as it cost to set up your site in the first place – if we did it. If your site was created by another company it might be very much cheaper than you think. Ask us for a free, no-obligation quotation –  fill in our contact form.

 

Are there any other benefits other than Google rankings?

Yes. You can manage a WordPress site yourself. Simple edits are a doddle –  no need to call your web developer. You – or us if you prefer – can add almost any functionality you can thing of in future, from e-commerce to galleries, forums or online booking. And the site is easy to transfer to another server or web provider with a few clicks should you ever want to do so.

And finally . . .

After recommending to our clients that they think about updating their website to make it responsive and mobile-friendly we realised that the project to convert our own (Webcraft) site, which was started several months ago, had stalled and we were not practicing what wee were preaching. A (very) long weekend burning the candle at both ends – and in the middle – sees the project finally finished. We hope you like the result.

screenshot

 The site is powered by WordPress using a modified version of the Air Balloon theme.

New website for KS Treecare

We created K&S Treecare’s original site for them three or four years, ago, and it has served them well. However, with the advent of Google’s new search algorithm which favours mobile-friendly devices K&S decided it was time for an update.

It’s built in WordPress using a modified version of the Accelerate theme.

They like it – hope you do too.

kstreecare

If you really MUST make your own website

Here’s the easiest, most effective solution:

Get some cheap web hosting that supports WordPress. 123-Reg are probably as good as any – at least, you will be able to move the site elsewhere in future if you want to. (From £2.50 per month).

Now choose a free theme from the hundreds out there and start playing around – or go with the standard but highly customisable TwentyTen or TwentyEleven themes and change them to suit. Check out a few WordPress tutorials on Youtube or download a free manual.

Make sure you back up all files and your database regularly and you will easily be able to move the site later if your current host seems restrictive in any way. I recommend this plugin to back up your database painlessly by e-mail.

I’ve created a short tutorial on the basic basics of WordPress starting from a clean installation with the 2010 theme:

 

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4EP0lXBeLI’]

It’s not the slickest tutorial, but will give you some idea.  One day I will remake this and continue the series . . .

Anyway, WordPress is the easiest industry-standard platform, easy to keep up to date, easy to transfer between hosts and easy to customise to make do whatever you want to to do. The ability to upload new themes which keep design separate from content means you can at some future date get a theme professionally designed if you so desire, move the site to another server, allocate permissions to allow others to update specific sections of the site or install and  use plugins to extend the functionality of the site.

Good luck.

E-commerce – A Vital Decision

Just how easy / affordable is it to get into selling online? Probably easier and cheaper than you think, but  there are pitfalls for the unwary.

There are a whole host of dedicated shopping carts out there, some free and open source, some expensive. Some are hosted, some have to be installed on your web server.  Which to choose, which way to go? 

Firstly, don’t expect impartial advice from  a web design company.  They  will probably have a lot of r&d time and energy invested in one or two particular packages, and will tell you unequivocally that this or that particular package is the only way to go. Be assured, it isn’t!

Secondly, if you have a limited budget and a lot of products, aren’t too critical about the look or branding of your site and don’t  want to employ a web design company then have a look at hosted solutions.  At the budget end we suggest:

Actinic –  from £19.99/month (for up to 100 products)

EMPowershop – from £19.99 / month

If you have a bigger budget then just Google ‘hosted e-commerce’.  But – do be aware that although these systems all boast of being incredibly easy to use and unbelievably versatile they will, like any computer programme or application, have their limitations. It will take you quite a while to get familiar with the interface and you will at times be frustrated because the software will not do what you want it to. You may find yourself spending a lot of time on forums asking for help from other users – so check that this feature is available.

If you go to a web design company ask them what software they propose  using and check it out. We used osCommerce for some years, but no longer recommend it for the average small business.  While it has the advantage of being free it is in our opinion a clunky, camel-designed bloated monstrosity that is hard to customise and keep secure and up to date. Offshoots of this include Zen Cart and  OscMax. These are better, but be very sure that the web developer you are using has complete mastery – check their portfolio, ask their clients – and make sure you get a price for the regular security updates that these systems always seem to need.

There are dozens of other less well-known shopping cart systems.  Each has its supporters,  each will have some merit, but most will also have drawbacks in terms of design and template limitations, ease of use, security and ease of updating. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and it is worth doing a lot of research before committing yourself to any one  system or designer. In particular, you need to know how easy is it to install software updates, and whether  there a facility to make complete backups including the database.

One of the popular e-commerce solutions nowadays is to use a plug-in for WordPress. There are several available, some free, some charged for but generally not expensive. Some work better than others, and each has a different range of features.  Here are two WordPress sites we have created that use e-commerce plugins:

Sledgehammer Simple – uses the Wp E-commerce plug-in

Paradise Kitchen – uses the WP Simple PayPal Shopping cart

These plug-ins are great if you want to be able to add products yourself and have all the functionality that WordPress gives you.

But do you need a dedicated shopping cart system with its built-in set of features and limitations?  If you only have a few products to sell then sometimes it is more satisfying aesthetically to integrate a basic PayPal shopping cart into your existing website. Combine this with a clever piece of software that can deal with downloadable products and you have a very versatile system with a unique look. Have a look at the purchase page from this site we recently created  for an author and publisher.  We have been able to give the site  a unique look and feel yet it has the ability to sell both physical and downloadable products.

Whatever your eventual choice, make it an informed one.  The success or failure of your  business may depend on it.

Why WordPress?

Wordpress logoUsing WordPress For Content Management

  For many years we encouraged clients to steer clear of content managed websites.  Too many content management systems were either cumbersome or required frequent complicated security updates or took up too many server resources and were very slow.  Many clients did not need the complexity of a CMS when all they required were occasional updates to prices or details that we could do for them at no cost in any event as part of their hosting and support package.

 
Then it  all changed when WordPress came along. WordPress was developed as a blogging platform, but it has since blossomed into a fully fledged content management system.  We watched its development closely, and by the time WordPress  3.0  was released in June 2010 we decided we were  happy to recommend it to almost any client wanting a website they can manage themselves. 
 
So we acquired  the software and the expertise to allow us to create custom templates and tweak the stylesheet to create unique, good-looking sites.  We learned what plug-ins really enhance the functionality of WordPress and what ones to avoid. We learned that WordPress is so much more than a blogging platform and  can even be used for e-commerce and download sites. Finally the CMS had come of age. Today, WordPress powers something like 15% of the top one million sites on the internet.
 
As with any CMS (Content Managment System) there are limitations and using the editor to get exactly the layout of text and images you want can be frustrating –  remember the first time you used Word?  However, with practice and/or support and  with judicious use of suitable plug-ins (‘bolt on’ bits of software that enhance the functionality of WordPress) you will be amazed at what you can create.
 
Some clients prefer the complete design flexibility of a bespoke hand-coded website, so for them  we can  design a bespoke site then a matching WordPress template to create a client-controlled subsection of their website. The main content that requires infrequent updating remains managed by us, but dynamic parts of the site – special offers, news pages etc – can be kept updated by the client and integrated with social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The advantage of this approach is that we can create a matching WordPress site for clients with existing sites, linked in to the main site’s navigation menus.
 
For new starts on very limited budgets a customised and hosted WordPress site with a bit of tuition to get you going represents an ideal compromise between the inadequacies of proprietary systems  like Spanglefish and the cost of a full bespoke website plus management. Both time and cash outlay can be kept low, and you are in control of a professional looking website from day one.
 
We will be writing many more articles on WordPress in the coming weeks and months – ‘How To’ articles,  case studies and more.  In the meantime, see our main website for more information.

Finally, we have our own WordPress blog!

We have been using WordPress for our clients for about eighteen months now, but our own blog – which so far has been rarely updated – was a poor thing hosted by and created in Blogger, a proprietory alternative to WordPress. Finally, as one of our New Year resolutions, Webcraft has its own WordPress blog.

We are very excited about WordPress at the moment. After years  of dodgy content manageent systems with security loopholes and tortuous upgrade paths WordPress is something we are happy to recommend, host and set up for clients.

In fact, we are so confident that we are offering a complete package – hosting, set-up and training – for just £299. Why not get in touch today?