All posts by ThemeSquirrel

9 Design Tools for 2021

If you are looking for the best software for professional web design, let us assure, you have come to the right place. Web design software’s enable you to create web templates & designs in a very short span of time. In the olden days, people would spend hours writing codes to create basic templates but now, with advanced web creation software’s available in the market, one can get designs made easily & quickly. In the following article, we will take you through some of the best design software’s you can use to create templates that come with full-fledged websites. 

So go ahead, give it a good read & make sure to share your thoughts below. 

  1. Dreamweaver

Available on both Windows & MAC, Adobe Dreamweaver is a commercial application used for app developments. The designing tool is packed with features & options that include code hinting, project management, FTP client, syntax highlighting, etc. It also includes workflow options such as Live View that shows you a preview of the code. Dreamweaver also works well with other Adobe products like Photoshop that allows you to share smart objects for easy & quick updating. It also helps in editing components. 

  1. Canva

Canva is quite a straightforward tool & deemed useful for all web designers. It is straightforward, easy to use, offers multiple benefits & makes design creation very easy. Canva is also free. It has a variety of graphics, fonts that don’t cost much. You could easily make accounts & not pay for the subscription. Canva also has templates, preset sizes that you can use for social media posts, cards, flyers, postcards, etc.  Apart from that, it is also easy to share designs with many people without making you pay for them. You could upload images & logos to your template as well. So, if you are looking for something that offers multiple features like this, try Canva. 

  1. GIMP

GIMP, better known as Graphical Image Manipulation Program, is a freemium tool that adds an inventory of web design tools. It is quite useful if you need to retouch images on your blog post or need to improve your presentation. Compared to other tools & softwares, it is quite user-friendly, beneficial for photo editing, and comes with various features & functions & photographs that you don’t want or need. It is customizable, flexible, and doesn’t take much space on your computer. Even if the GIMP wasn’t small already, a portable version is easy to download on your USB & you can edit it almost anywhere.

  1. Novaa

Nova is a web development application used for MAC operating systems. It is also known as the improved version of Panic & is loved by several users. The tool helps you reduce the number of applications you find such as CSS editors, version control systems etc. Nova’s one window development philosophy uses a whole tabbed interface required for text editing, SVN, CSS & even other books that embed web books you can easily search whenever you want!

  1. Weebly

Weebly is quite popular when it comes to web building & designing new software. It can easily be used to create web designs for websites as well as online stores. Several users on the internet trust them. It also has an interesting drag & drop interface that lets you create designs only within a few minutes. Weebly definitely makes life a lot simpler as it lets you build your website design without even writing any code. How cool is that? Even the best website design tips online couldn’t beat that! Although the free version comes with all cool features, you should consider checking out the paid plan for more options & features.

  1. Bubble

Bubble helps you create data-driven & functional web applications. It comes with an editor that lets you build, customize, design & create applications depending on your requirements. Even if you need to build a website like Airbnb or Facebook, Bubble lets you do all of that. It helps you create multi-user apps that can be used on mobile as well as desktop. Also, the best part about this is that it helps you take care of small issues related to infrastructure, maintenance & operations. Bubble also handles hosting & deployment. It does not have hard limits on its users, data storage, traffic, or even the volume.

  1. Figma

Figma is a popular web design software that lets you connect with different teams while working on the same template. It is a smart tool that lets you share projects with your own clients & make live changes on your template design. Figma also takes web designing to a different level. It comes with colors, fonts & settings needed for its editing panel. The options & tools are amazing when needed to create icons or even complete web templates. Figma is available on both premium as well as free plans. 

  1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a great framework that lets you create websites as well as web designs. It is made for technical users so that they can create great designs seamlessly. Bootstrap comes with advanced development features, including powerful frameworks that can be used to create interesting web designs like JS, CSS, HTML, etc. if you wish to work using pre-built templates, make sure to try Bootstrap. You will like it indeed. 

  1. Google Web Designers

If you are looking for something that’s free of cost, try Google Web Designer. This is an excellent tool that makes web design easy, especially if they are based on something like HTML 5. The tool makes sure your designs will run on any device, whether it is a smartphone or even desktops. You could also edit CSS, JavaScript, HTML directly with the help of the Google Web Designer.

So here’s a list of some of the best design tools that are used by both experts & professionals. All of them have great reviews & have been liked by business software’s as well. Most of the tools come in handy & can be used for wireframing, debugging, coding & collaboration. In case you feel like we have missed out on a few good tools, do mention them down below. Your suggestions do matter to us!

How to Install a Wildcard SSL Certificate on Your WordPress Site

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. Having an SSL certificate installed on your WordPress site is no longer optional. It is necessary to install it so that you can protect your site and ensure all the data is encrypted and served via an HTTPS connection. A Wildcard SSL allows you to protect several subdomains with just one certificate. A wildcard SSL certificate can function with any subdomain of the base domain it is provided for. For instance, if your domain name is “yourwebsite.com”, your wildcard certificate would likewise secure “subsite.yourwebsite.com” and “subsite2.yourwebsite.com”. 

As with most single-name certificates, wildcard SSL certificates encrypt data employing a bunch of keys. This incorporates a public key that is put away on the digital certificate and a private key that is kept on your server. Nonetheless, with a wildcard certificate, you can copy the private key and transfer it to however many servers as you wish. Therefore, you must know how to install a Wildcard SSL Certificate on your WordPress site. Let’s see the steps to do it successfully.

Installing a Wildcard SSL Certificate

Suppose you conclude that wildcard SSL is your most ideal alternative, the following stage is to purchase and install it on your WordPress site. The cycle for installing an SSL certificate may fluctuate somewhat, contingent upon your host and server type. 

For instance, some hosting plans don’t uphold wildcard SSL certificates, or just offer them as a premium choice. Essentially, the steps associated with the installation interaction may appear to be unique relying upon the control panel and interface of your web host. Notwithstanding, the steps included are generally the equivalent. We should investigate how to install a wildcard SSL certificate on your WordPress site in some simple steps!

  • Purchase Your Wildcard SSL Certificate 

The initial step is to purchase your SSL certificate. As you probably are aware, there is an assortment of SSL suppliers to look over that offer wildcard certificates. The best arrangement will rely generally upon your particular necessities and budget. At the point when you purchase an SSL certificate, you’ll be approached to show the sort of server your site is hosted on. You can choose “Nginx” if that is accessible as an alternative. Nonetheless, “Apache” or “Other” will likewise work.

  • Create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) Code and Private Key 

The subsequent stage is to produce a CSR code, which is needed by the SSL supplier to make and sign the certificate document. To create a CSR code and private key, you can finish the Online CSR and Key Generator structure on SSL.com. Fill in the following fields. 

  • Common Name (Domain Name)
  • Email Address
  • Organization
  • City / Locality
  • State / County / Region
  • Country

Since you are creating a wildcard SSL certificate, for the “Common name” field, make a point to add an asterisk before your domain name (“*.yourdomain.com”). At the point when you’re set, click on the Generate button at the lower part of the screen. A private key document and CSR will be consequently generated. You can choose Download Private Key and Copy CSR to save this information. Not exclusively will you need them in the subsequent stage; however, your SSL certificate is unusable without them. At that point, get back to your SSL provider and transfer your CSR. This will regenerate your SSL certificate (.cert) record.

  • Upload The Private Key and Certificate Files to Your Server 

The following step is to upload your CSR and private key files to your server. Then, under the SSL certificate, click on the Enable HTTPS drop-down menu and select Add custom SSL certificate. Inside the window that opens, click on the Next button. At that point, in the proper fields, add your private key and certificate information. Note that if you need to add your middle certificate also, you can do as such. Contingent upon which SSL provider you utilized, they may have mailed you a .crt file and a .ca-pack file. Suppose you don’t have a moderate certificate or understand what it is, you can utilize an instrument like What’s My Chain Cert to generate it. 

You can utilize a text editor like Notepad to open these files. At that point, you can copy and glue the contents of your .crt file in the Certificate area first, trailed by the contents of the .ca-pack file beneath it. Whenever you’re done, click on the Add Certificate button. As we referenced, the interaction for transferring your private key and certificate files will change contingent upon your host. Suppose your host utilizes cPanel/WHM, you can add this information under SSL/TLS.

  • Affirm That the Wildcard SSL Certification Installation Was Successful 

If you painstakingly executed the previously mentioned steps, you should now have a wildcard SSL certificate effectively installed on your WordPress site. Notwithstanding, to affirm that everything went as it ought to, you should utilize the SSL Checker tool by About SSL. On this page, just enter the URL of your WordPress site, and afterward, click on the Check button. Information about your SSL certificate will naturally show on the screen. This will assist you with affirming whether yours was appropriately installed. If all looks well, that is it! You’ve currently installed a wildcard SSL certificate. After installing the SSL certificate, we suggest running a search and supplant on your site’s database to trade out HTTP URLs for HTTPS ones.

Presto! Your WordPress site presently has a Wildcard SSL certificate installed on your WordPress site. Bid farewell to negative visual indicators and browser warnings and hi to connection security.

What to Look at When Redesigning Your Website

[Image Source: Unsplash]

What to Look at When Redesigning Your Website

You’re probably here because you’re considering a website redesign. Perhaps you’ve begun to suspect that your site is looking outdated and that it might be time for a change. Maybe you’re having issues with traffic or the lack thereof, or your conversion rates are dropping.

Whatever the reason may be, a redesign can help, but only if you do it right. This post is here to help you do just that.

A good rule of thumb for business success is that what is good for your customers is usually going to be good for your business. We approached a profesional web designer to find the safest, most effective, and overall, the best way to redesign your site with your customers in mind. 

What is a Website Redesign?

First, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page. A website redesign is not the same as a refresh or update. The difference between the two is mostly related to the scope and reach of the changes you’re making.

A website refresh, or update, is a process in which you apply minor changes to your site’s look and feel. It basically represents putting a new coat of paint on your site, with updated typography and maybe a new color pallet. Some small UX tweaks can sneak in as well.

With a redesign, however, not only does the visual appearance of your website change significantly but so does the code. Let’s suppose that you’re going through a full rebranding or a visual identity change. In that case, you’ll be looking to restructure your information architecture, incorporate new functionality to your site, or even add a new content management system (CMS).

Despite all these differences, a refresh and a redesign have one crucial thing in common — both can impact the customers’ experience on your site. The semantics are far less important. What really matters is how you approach the changes you’re about to make.

Things You Should Determine Before Redesigning Your Site

The only way to find out what your customers want from your site and what it is currently doing well is to do some research. Here are three critical questions to ask yourself about your site and your customers before embarking on a redesign project.

What Are Your Website’s Most Important Pages?

Let’s take a second and think about the way you should approach a website redesign. First, you need to figure out what you want to change and what you want to keep. Think of it as you would think about remodeling your home. You wouldn’t just grab a hammer and start swinging without working out a plan for knocking down your walls.

You should have a clear website redesign roadmap as well, outlining the pages that need to be rebuilt from scratch and the ones that only need a few tweaks. 

One way to do this is to analyze your traffic and your conversion rates. This type of analysis will put each of your pages into one of the following categories:

  • Low traffic, low conversions — the most risk-free pages on the site. You can redesign these pages as much as you want because not many people are likely to notice, and there’s no risk for your conversions.
  • High traffic, low conversions — not quite as risk-free as the last category, but some experimentation is allowed. You’re getting lots of eyes on these pages, but something is clearly not working in terms of getting conversions.
  • Low traffic, high conversions — tread lightly with your changes. Most likely, there’s nothing wrong with these pages, and you need to redesign the rest of your website to funnel more traffic here.
  • High traffic, high conversions — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These pages are the ones pushing your business forward, and any significant changes to them could have massive consequences. Proceed with caution.

Knowing which pages to get rid of and which to keep will help you get the most out of your website redesign. This way, you can make sure that you don’t ruin your conversions or break anything else that is currently working well.

Who Is Visiting Your Site and Why?

Finding out which of the pages on your site are the most important is only half of the story. You also need to know your visitors, specifically who they are and what they want from your site.

Users can come to a website for one of these four reasons:

  • They want to know more about your products or your brand
  • They want to get in touch with you
  • They need instructions on one of your products
  • They want to buy something from you

It is pretty clear that these reasons are all quite different. Understanding the intent of your customers will help you redesign your site with their interests in mind.

An excellent way to start is to create customer personas. These are representations of your current customers based on the data you’ve collected. Customer personas help you determine:

  1. Your target demographic
  2. Your customers’ primary intent

You can start creating customer personas by placing surveys on your site and collecting useful info about what is driving your customers there.

What Is Pushing Your Customers Toward Conversion, and What Is Stopping Them on the Way?

By this point, you’ve figured out what your website’s most valuable pages are. You also know who is visiting your site and why. 

That’s a great start, but there are still a couple of large gaps that you need to fill before you can start your website redesign. To fill these gaps, you need to answer the following questions about your site:

  1. What elements are nudging customers in the right direction, helping them complete the actions they came for?
  2. What elements are stopping customers on their way to conversion?

The answers to the first question are your hooks, while the answers to the second are your barriers. Investigating your hooks and barriers will help you get the answers to the following questions:

  • What about your site is working and what isn’t?
  • Where are your customers getting stuck?
  • What’s preventing people from converting?
  • What do your customers enjoy or dislike about the experience of visiting your site?

And so on. If you can’t make a connection between your website’s performance and your customers’ behavior, you might end up with a lot of the same problems after the redesign. We’re sure you’ll agree that this would be disastrous, as it would render the whole exercise pointless.

Finding the individual elements that work and those that don’t is crucial to your ability to determine what to keep and what to remove.

You Should Never Stop Redesigning Your Website

Once you’ve answered these three key questions, you can proceed with your website redesign. However, if you think that your work is done, think again. The online world is volatile, with accessibility standards, design practices, browser technologies, and customer preferences always changing.

What worked at the time of your latest redesign may be an outdated practice now. 

Keep asking the questions outlined in this post regularly, and your site will remain competitive regardless of the changes in the online landscape.

Author bio:

Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. He is focused on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.

Difference Between WordPress And Wix, Which Is Better?

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

If you’re willing to take up website design and development, choosing a tool for building your site is the first step you need to take. 

Although there are plenty of options available, WordPress and Wix are the most popular alternatives out there. 

So, what are the differences between them and which one will be better for you? 

Well, today we are going to give you an answer. 

WordPress vs Wix: The Main Difference 

Before figuring out both the pros and the cons of these tools, we first need to understand the difference between them. 

Wix is a website builder, whereas, WordPress is a content management system.

A CMS, like WordPress, is software that runs on a web server that allows you to store, create and manage content. Being open-source, CMS gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to managing your site. 

You’re not bound to a particular host, but keep in mind that you’ll have to manage maintenance, security and backups all by yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you. 

Website builders, like Wix, are a different story. They provide you with all the tools necessary for creating your website. However, you’ll only be able to work using their platforms.

WordPress vs Wix: Which One Is Better? 

The short answer is that it depends, mostly on the complexity of your website. But let’s discuss this in further detail. 

1. Pricing 

Both of these platforms can be free of charge, to an extent. For example, Wix offers a free basic website builder for as long as you want. However, you won’t be able to use a custom domain name and Wix will also add advertisements throughout your page.

So, if you want to get rid of the ads and have a custom domain name, you’ll have to upgrade to one of Wix’s premium plans. Here, you can opt for a monthly or yearly subscription, starting from $5 per month and going up to $35 per month.

Since WordPress is an open-source CMS, you can download and use it for free. However, by having just a Content Management System, you won’t be able to get your website up and running. 

You’ll also need to find a hosting provider and a custom domain name. For example, when it comes to hosting, Bluehost’s cheapest plan will set you back around $3 a month, which will also come with a free custom domain for one year. 

Besides subscription payments, you also may need to pay for premium themes or additional plug-ins that will give your website more functionality.

2. Ease of Use 

Building a website with Wix is as easy as it can get, making it perfect for beginners. Simply drag and drop any element, such as paragraphs, pictures, buttons, etc. and arrange the layout of your page to your liking. 

Also, if you’d like to add more functionality to your site, just go on the App Market and add new features in no time. 

When creating a website with WordPress, on the other hand, you might end up watching a few tutorials here and there. That’s because you might have to do a bit of coding and also figure out how to work with certain features of the platform. 

3. Customization 

Although Wix is very easy to use, it won’t give you that much freedom in terms of customization and flexibility. That’s because you will only be able to customize your website by using the built-in tools Wix provides you with.  

Besides, even if there are hundreds of templates available that fit a wide variety of industries, once you’ve selected one, you won’t be able to change it. 

With WordPress, you not only have access to a much larger variety of templates, but you can also change or modify them to your liking, provided you know a bit of HTML and CSS, that is. 

In other words, Wix is limited but provides just enough customization options for beginners. Whereas, with a little bit of knowledge, WordPress gives you endless possibilities in designing your website. 

4. Functionality 

When it comes to functionality, Wix can provide you with over 250 free and paid apps through its App Market. 

Although it may not sound like a lot, each one of these apps is either created by Wix, or by third-party developers which are approved by the platform. This means that any plug-in you will find on Wix is guaranteed to work with your website.  

On the flip side, the number of plug-ins available in WordPress is close to 55,000. So, the chances of not finding exactly what you need, are quite slim. 

That doesn’t mean you won’t stumble across some of the lower quality plug-ins. However, checking other user’s feedback can mitigate that risk. 

5. SEO 

Speaking of apps and plug-ins, we have to talk about the SEO capabilities of these two platforms.

The good news is, both Wix and WordPress provide you with tools that will aid you with Search Engine Optimization. 

Even though the number of plug-ins available on Wix is rather limited, it still offers quite a few dedicated SEO tools compared to other website builders. 

One of them being Site Booster, which comes free of charge if you have a subscription on anything that’s above the Unlimited plan. If you opted to use Wix for free, or you’ve subscribed to the Combo plan, this app will cost you around $3.50 per month. 

Site Booster offers pretty much all you could ever need from SEO. It helps you rank higher in search results, get your site listed in directories and business listings and more.

However, due to the larger number of plug-ins you can find on WordPress, you’ll be able to have a slightly better SEO compared to Wix. 

6. Customer Support 

Wix offers 24/7 customer support in all of its paid plans, making this one of its strong points. Furthermore, if you’ve opted for the VIP package, you’ll be able to get help right away. 

WordPress lacks in this department. In fact, WordPress does not offer any official customer care. So, if you happen to come across an issue, your best bet would be to head over to its community forums, which might not always fix your issue. 

7. Online Stores 

Regarding eCommerce, Wix is best suited for smaller online stores. It comes with plenty of features that will help you run your business such as social media integration, abandoned cart recovery, post product reviews on your site and more.

However, some of these features are quite limited. In order to run your online store on Wix, you need to choose one of their eCommerce plans. Note that the cheaper ones have a rather limited amount of features available.

WordPress, on the other hand, comes with a large number of plug-ins that are specifically catered toward online stores, WooCommerce being the most popular. 

In fact, over 28% of all online stores are using this plug-in. So, why is it so popular? Well, just like WordPress, WooCommerce is also open source, meaning that you’ll be able to extend the set of features your website has by installing additional plug-ins, features that your online store might not benefit from by using Wix.

Conclusion 

So, is WordPress or Wix a better option for you? 

Well, if you’re comfortable with coding, building and maintaining your website by yourself, give WordPress a try. It offers a lot more functionality and customization options that will most likely give you better results in the long run, compared to a website builder. 

However, if technical skills are not your strong suit, you should try Wix. Due to its ease of use, this platform is perfect for beginners who don’t want to meddle in building a website all by themselves.

Author bio:

Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. He is focused on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels

SEO Tips: Time vs. Money

For many business and website owners, SEO is still seen as something that is too expensive to get into. This is both correct and incorrect; yes, SEO can be very expensive, but you don’t have to have a big budget in order to optimize your site and get your SEO performance up. SEO is always about time and money, and in this article we are going to discuss how you can balance these two aspects accordingly.

seo-tips-2015

Big-Budget SEO

The simplest way to do SEO is by having a team of experts helping you every step of the way. If you have a big budget for SEO or internet marketing in general, then this is definitely the route you should take. Over 60% of today’s internet traffic still come from search engines, which is why having your site at the top of search results is a huge plus.

The guys at Blue Hat Marketing shared their secrets for maximizing your SEO budget. According to them, there are three main things to focus on:

1. Superb articles and other site content that will attract and engage visitors. Content is still the heart of every SEO campaign. Luckily, you can now hire the best content writers and creators from all around the world to help you produce high quality articles, podcasts and videos for your visitors.

2. On-site SEO optimizations that will help your site blooms. The best content needs to be presented correctly not only to users but also to search engine crawlers. Having a team of SEO, web design and programming experts optimizing your site will indeed be a huge plus.

3. Off-site SEO done right. In order to truly have a successful SEO campaign, you also need to build relationships with other sites and site owners.

What about doing SEO with low budget?

The secrets to a successful SEO campaign remain the same: the three points we discussed earlier. To have a truly successful campaign, you need to do those three steps correctly and effectively. The good news is: you can do most of them yourself.

seo secrets

When you have low or limited budget for SEO, all you have to do is invest more time to the campaign. For example, you can produce your own articles and keep your site updated. You may make mistakes at the beginning, but article writing is a craft that is easy to learn.

The same goes for optimizing your site. You may still have to hire a web designer to do the programming for you, but figuring out the elements that need to be improved is something you can do yourself. Of course, you can also spend some time connecting with other influential websites and writing guest posts to improve your site’s exposure.

Time vs. Money

At the end of the day, SEO is about time vs. money. Whenever you can’t afford to spend on your SEO campaign, you can always invest your time into it. it is just a matter of choosing the right balance to have a truly successful SEO campaign without breaking your bank.

WordPress Fires Back Against Mass Surveillance

reset the net logoIn recent days, Paul Sieminski from WordPress.com posted a blog entitled “Reset the Net.” It rhymes, it’s catchy, and apparently it had quite a profound effect, as plenty of sites picked up on it, including ThemeSquirrel. The article’s thesis: “We’ll be serving pages only over SSL for all *.wordpress.com subdomains by the end of the year.”

The blog entry starts by noting that one year ago, “We joined the world in shock on learning that governments were spying on internet users around the world… Just as troubling as the revelations themselves is the fact that since last summer, little if anything has changed. Despite a lot of rhetoric, our three branches of government in the United States have not made many concrete steps toward truly protecting citizens from unchecked government surveillance.”

Apparently, WordPress’ parent company, the famed Automattic, has been one of the champions of support for legislation combating mass surveillance. With so many websites powered by WordPress, a call to action by a company as large and as relevant as Automattic could mean quite a change in the industry. When Automattic speaks, the WordPress world listens.

As Sieminski concluded, “If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that encryption, when done correctly, works. If we properly encrypt our sites and devices, we can make mass surveillance much more difficult.”

Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum or what your views are about the place government has in your daily life, the comments on Sieminski’s piece were overwhelmingly in support of WordPress’ actions. One user wrote, “Excellent! This is great news and I support WordPress in its efforts to protect its members,” while another reader added, “Thank you. It is disturbing the lengths governments go and spin it as being to protect their people. They’re just snooping.”

If you’re thinking that the title of Sieminski’s blog sounds familiar, it’s because “Reset the Net” was the name given to a public awareness day that took place on June 5 devoted to privacy and surveillance online. As a pledge you can find on ResetTheNet.org says, “Mass surveillance is illegitimate. I’m taking steps to take my freedoms back and I expect governments and corporations to follow in my footsteps and take steps to stop all mass government surveillance.”

There are a variety of ways to protect yourself on ResetTheNet’s website, including apps focusing on text messaging and phone calls, password protection, and encryption for online discussion. Whether you’re a Mac user, Windows user, or Linux user, you’ll find something on the site of value if you’re interested in privacy.

gmail statsEven Google is getting into the act. Around the same time that WordPress posted, Google’s team revealed that it had launched a new section of the Transparency Report (pictured at left) focusing on what percentage of e-mail was encrypted in transit. As Google pointed out, “Our data shows that approximately 40 to 50 percent of emails sent between Gmail and other email providers aren’t encrypted.”

Google added, “We’re making available the source code for End-to-End, a Chrome extension. It’s currently in testing and once it’s ready for general use, it will make this technology easier for those who choose to use it.”

Other participants in Reset the Net include Reddit, Mozilla, Greenpeace, Dropbox, and Fight for the Future, which started the campaign in the first place.

Automattic will likely continue to grow in power and influence going forward, as its CEO, Matt Mullenweg, who is also the co-founder of WordPress, was recently quoted as saying, “We still have 70 percent of the web to go” when asked about WordPress’ long-term plans. A man with a vision and, perhaps in this case, a mission.

Proof That WordPress Can Adapt to Any Industry

bandOn this Memorial Day week, we ran across an article that appeared on TheMusicVoid.com advising band members and managers how to start their own WordPress sites. Yes, even rockers can get into the act on WordPress along with the rest of us, which was proof enough of how dynamic the content system we all know and love can really be.

It really doesn’t matter if you’re setting up a portfolio or a photo book or a rock band’s website; the process is the same. However, let’s follow The Music Void’s example to see if we can discover what about WordPress is particularly important in that industry compared to others you might be familiar with.

After a band figures out what their URL will be, which is likely just their name, it’s time to find a WordPress theme that suits them best. But, what traits are important when it comes to selecting a band’s WordPress theme? As the site put it, consider “the genre which you/your band plays, the image you want to evoke, the style you want to convey, [and] the practicality of employing these on your WordPress site.”

For example, a country band may want to use country-related images, while a particularly dark band may want to employ a not-so-vibrant color scheme. The layout and look will likely depend in large part on what the band actually is.

Then there’s content. If you’re a band trying to get the word out about your existence, The Music Void recommended that a video appear on the home page: “A video or sound-byte would be the ideal choice as far as initial presentation is concerned. If you do include this for your index page, make sure to have options to turn it off and also have options to adjust the volume.” Nothing is more embarrassing than navigating to a web page while at work only to have music blare through the computer’s speakers.

Other content that’s important to bands specifically is an “About Us” section, according to the same site, so visitors know all about a band and can easily contact them. The Music Void added, “Band sites are rich with audio-visual content and customization is key to getting your name out there. Becoming popular and getting work is everything for a band and you should customize your site in order to be unique.” We’d recommend including tour dates and live show information if these exist as well.

wp-showThere’s a WordPress theme we’ve reviewed here on ThemeSquirrel called WP Show (pictured) that includes an oversized video player on its main page. If you’re a band or any entertainment entity, using a theme that features video heavily, as we just learned, is quite important. The WP Show theme includes a featured video carousel and supports text posts.

WordPress.com offers music-related features including a song player, tour dates, social media involvement, video embeds, and mailing lists. Apparently, WordPress powers the websites of artists like Snoop Lion, Xzibit, and The Gap Theory, just to name a few.

One of the most popular hosting solutions among websites we saw suggested that bands set up their own domains using BlueHost, which offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting. There’s optimized hosting for WordPress starting at $34.99 per month. There are also plans that cost a few bucks.

It’s interesting how many industries the WordPress concept can adapt to. Each industry values different marketing tools and, with the right theme, WordPress can bring each desired feature to the forefront of a site. Whether a business thrives by showcasing videos, audio, images, text, or a calendar, for example, there’s a WordPress theme that fills the need.

Website Platform Pantheon Raises $21.5 Million

pantheon logoAccording to various sources, including Forbes and Venture Beat, the website platform Pantheon has raised $21.5 million in cash as part of a Series B funding effort. As Venture Beat put it, the reason for the latest round of fundraising is to “help Pantheon as it intends to maintain a larger portion of websites on the internet. It is targeting companies looking to spend somewhere between a few hundred and several million dollars a year.”

Forbes noted that Pantheon is quickly gaining steam and currently has 65,000 websites. As the news site explained, “The value prop for those website owners is that Pantheon relieves their internal staff of the duties related to setting up, maintaining, and scaling the underlying infrastructure upon which their websites run.” Essentially, Pantheon lets companies focus on their own business and lets Pantheon take care of keeping the websites up and running.

Pantheon supports Drupal and WordPress and, as TechCrunch revealed, will soon expand its staff and “invest in partnerships.” According to a blog post from CEO and Co-Founder Zack Rosen, “Our mission at Pantheon is an ambitious, long-term undertaking. My co-founders and I have long experience bootstrapping companies, but we’ve known since the beginning that the venture financing path is the correct one for Pantheon. There would simply be no chance of achieving our goals without the backing of top tier venture investors.” The site launched in 2012.

If you’re a regular reader of ThemeSquirrel, then you know that Automattic, which runs WordPress.com and features WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg as its CEO, recently received $160 million in funding. Automattic is not alone, either, at least not in terms of raising money, according to Venture Beat. The site said, “Squarespace raised $40 million. Weebly also took on $40 million. WordPress-focused WP Engine picked up $15 million. Earlier-stage Brandcast received $1.5 million.”

Pantheon is thinking big too, as its CEO stated that the company’s goal is to “power 30% of the Web.” Yes, that’s a long-term play, but money – and lots of it – will be one of the keys to reaching the finish line.

You’re reading a WordPress-related site, so let’s at least add one paragraph to this article that focuses on WordPress. In March, Pantheon introduced a website platform for WordPress. Rosen compared Drupal users to WordPress users by saying, “WordPress developers face the same tricky website DevOps challenges as Drupal developers. Pantheon turns tasks like version control, setting up development environments, workflow, team management, and high performance scaling into one-click operations.”

zack rosenPantheon has five levels of pricing available: Personal, Professional, Business, Enterprise, and One. Each option comes with varying levels of storage, pageviews, updates, support interaction, and automated backup, just to name a few. The Personal version runs $25 per month, while the Enterprise and One options require a person to call Pantheon in order to figure out how much the company will charge.

By the way, you know Rosen (pictured) is a big deal when his Twitter handle is simply @zack. Seriously, how early do you have to get into the Twitter game in order to squat on @zack? The answer: 2006. In addition to his role at Pantheon, Rosen is the owner of Mission Bicycle in San Francisco and a partner at Chapter Three.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which was among the first news outlets to report about the funding, “The Series B round was led by Scale Venture Partners and includes OpenView Venture Partners and current investors First Round Capital and Foundry Group, taking Pantheon’s total funding to $28.8 million.”

We’ll keep you posted on the latest business news affecting the WordPress community right here on ThemeSquirrel.

Why Laymen Choose WordPress

wordpress adminYou use WordPress, but, hey, you’re a reader of ThemeSquirrel and know quite a bit about the industry. Why would a layman use WordPress of all of the options out there? How do WordPress and its themes appeal to the common man? Do you remember why you started using WordPress in the first place? For the answer to those questions and more, we’ll turn to an article from Business News Daily that compared WordPress to one of its rivals, Squarespace.

Themes are one of the main reasons WordPress is so popular. After all, we have reviewed plenty of them here on ThemeSquirrel and regularly help you find the best ones by publishing articles like 20 WordPress plugins to improve your social media presence. Themes help make the WordPress experience unique.

As Business News Daily pointed out, there’s a lot of theme appeal to the common man, as “Themes can be used as-is without any need to code or may be customized by those with more advanced coding skills.” You can find WordPress themes for just about everything, from hotels to restaurants to portfolios to news sites. No matter what your business model or goal for a website may be, chances are there’s a WordPress theme to match.

Similarly, from calendars to HTML sliders to extractors, there are plugins for just about any task you can imagine. As the site put it, “Like themes, there are a slew of plugins available and they only need to be installed, eliminating any coding to make them work.” In the end, taking the technical know-how out of website development makes WordPress a top-of-mind option for many laymen.

One of the handy aspects of WordPress is that it allows multiple users to manage a single website with ease. For example, this author logs into ThemeSquirrel with one user name, but our admin has an entirely different set of credentials with different layers of permissions. As Business News Daily put it, “[User profiles come] in handy for editors and writers who deal with content, marketing people for analytics and data collection, and administrators who maintain the website as a whole.”

One area where Squarespace seemed to have a leg up was in support. Business News Daily reminded laymen who might be a bit tepid about computers and technology that Squarespace has round-the-clock e-mail support. The company also has live chat, whereas WordPress’ options are much more limited: “Your only official source for WordPress help is via the WordPress Support Forum.”

The verdict: if you want “choices and flexibility,” WordPress is the way laymen should go. However, if you’re looking for speed to market, choose Squarespace. With so many websites using WordPress, we’re sure many laymen have chosen that path.

google logoOther websites we found agreed with many of the same aspects of the Business News Daily article. For example, WPBeginner stressed that the number of WordPress tutorials found online can help anyone become adept at WordPress in relatively short order. We found video tutorials produced by everyone, from Joe Schmo all the way up to Microsoft.

One of the other major pluses to WordPress is its focus on search engine optimization. According to WPApprentice, one Google engineer heralded, “WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues.” There are a host of SEO options contained within WordPress, which can help any laymen entrench his site into search engines like Google.

Finally, as the same site pointed out, there are plenty of people honing their craft in a vibrant WordPress community: “With so many users, it’s only natural that a huge, active, and generous community has sprung up to provide support, exchange ideas, and make WordPress better for everyone.”

So, keep on loving WordPress and encourage your laymen friends to do the same.

WordPress Co-Founder: “We Still Have 70 Percent of the Web to Go”

Matt MullenwegYou have to love ambitious entrepreneurs. The bottom line is that if you’re trying to grow a company, you can’t rest on your laurels. To the contrary, you need to keep scratching, fighting, and pushing your way to the top, even after you’ve succeeded. Take Automattic CEO and WordPress Co-Founder Matt Mullenweg, who told TechCrunch in recent days that despite all of WordPress’ success over the years, “We still have 70 percent of the web to go.”

You’ll remember a recent article here on ThemeSquirrel about Automattic seeking a $1 billion valuation, which seemed overwhelmingly high to some people, but fair to others. Whatever your take on the astronomical sum may be, Automattic ended up being valued at $1.16 billion during its most recent round of funding, which brought in $160 million.

TechCrunch pointed out that despite Mullenweg being one of the most well recognized people in the WordPress world, he still tools around his hometown in a 1998 Chevy Lumina. Yes, that model of car no longer exists and is the same one this author’s mother drove for a decade.

WordPress has been facing competition from other content management systems and among those creeping around is Medium. TechCrunch asked Mullenweg about Medium, which was created by the co-founders of Twitter. Mullenweg responded, “Their editor interface is great, but I think we can do a next version of it… We think about how to make WordPress better all day. We do try to strive for excellence.”

One major advantage WordPress has, and one that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, is the continued explosion of mobile devices. This author’s home alone has more mobile devices than inhabitants and, according to the Wall Street Journal, Mullenweg considers phones and tablets to be allies, not enemies: “With mobile, people are writing more and consuming more, but they’re just as comfortable consuming long-form [content] on phones and tablets as they were on a desktop.”

What’s next for WordPress and its fearless founder? TechCrunch explained that the platform has several major projects on deck: “[Mullenweg singled out] a project called ‘new dash,’ which is a major rewrite of the WordPress backend and editing interface. He also hinted that the iOS 8 editing tools will allow the company to provide a mobile interface that is ‘much, much better’… The company also plans to focus on Jetpack, its tool for bringing cloud-hosted features from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress blogs.”

Automattic has been quite busy as of late. The company purchased Longreads in April and, shortly thereafter, acquired Scroll Kit, promptly shutting that service down. World domination could be next, but you’d never know it from the cool, calm, and collected Mullenweg, who seems to be the person you’d want with you in a bunker during a zombie apocalypse.

raining moneyWhat we do know is that Automattic has several ventures earmarked for the $160 million it just raised. The Journal outlined, “With the funding… the nine-year-old company plans to grow its staff; improve its offering beyond the English-, Spanish-, and German-language speaking markets; and potentially acquire other startups.”

According to a post from Mullenweg, the $160 million cash infusion is the company’s first investment in six years. Moreover, it has required just $12 million in “outside capital” in the last eight years, making the $160 million figure even more eye-opening.

Mullenweg elaborated on the need for cash, saying, “There was an opportunity cost to how we were managing the company toward breakeven and we realized we could invest more into WordPress and our products to grow faster. Also, our cash position wasn’t going to be terribly strong [going forward].”

Stay tuned to ThemeSquirrel for the latest WordPress news.