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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 2d ago

If you’re new to building and managing websites, you need to get yourself familiar with widgets as soon as possible.

What’s a widget?

Simply put, it’s website component that adds features or functionality to your site. Widgets are embedded directly onto your site, but you don’t have to develop or code them on your own.

To install a widget on your website, it’s as simple as copying and pasting some code, which will be provided by the creator of the widget. There will usually be a sufficient set of instructions for how and where to install the code from your widget-provider.

Why do you need widgets on your website?

Here’s the thing. Websites can functionally operate without widgets. But I’m sure you’ve landed on websites and wondered how they were able to add so many cool features and functionality to their pages. In many instances, they probably used a widget.

Your website builders and content management systems will be somewhat limited. Widgets fill in all of the blanks that aren’t provided by those platforms.

Widgets come in all shapes and sizes. They range from clocks, to weather feeds, and translators. But depending on the type of website you have, adding a clock or weather icon to your site doesn’t really add much value to your visitors.

That’s what inspired me to write this guide. I’ve come up with a list of the top 10 widgets that add real value and functionality to improve your website.

1. Reservio

Reservio is an online booking widget. So for those of you who run a business that takes appointments, it will enhance the experience of your website visitors.

Adding the Reservio booking button to your site is easier than having to take appointments over the phone. Plus, since all of your bookings can be handled online, your customers can schedule appointments at any time, even outside of your normal business hours.

Reservio syncs with the calendars that you’re already using, like Outlook, iCal, and Google Calendar.

It’s compatible with popular site builders and CMS platforms such as Wix, Webnode, Weebly, and WordPress.

With that said, if you’re a WordPress user and want more than just a widget for scheduling online reservations, you can check out my list of the best WordPress booking plugins.

2. Smartsupp

If you want to drastically enhance the customer service experience on your website, you need to implement live chat.

The Smartsupp widget is one of the easiest ways to make this happen.

This is ideal for those of you who are selling online with an ecommerce site. Whether you’re selling products or services, Smartsupp makes it possible for your current and prospective customers to reach you with any questions they have.

Adding personalized communication methods to your website will ultimately increase your conversion rates in the long run.

According to a recent study, 77% of consumers won’t buy from sites that don’t offer live chat as a support option.

People that engage with a live chat representative on your website are worth over 4.5 times more than customers who don’t.

Live chat increases average order values by 10%. It also increases conversion rates by 40%.

Response times for live chat are also significantly faster than communication methods like email or phone support. Plus, live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction ratings.

So if you’re ready to add this feature to your website, just install the Smartsupp widget.

3. Disqus

The Disqus widget is made for those of you who want to have more engaged website visitors, which is basically everyone.

If you have a blog on your website, it’s a great platform for you to share your thoughts, opinions, and give valuable information to your visitors. But that communication platform shouldn’t be a one-way street.

To increase engagement, you want your customers to share their opinions as well.

Adding Disqus to your site adds functionality to your blog comments. It also gives you added management tools for monitoring and responding to comments.

This widget is super easy to set up. Disqus even includes a video instruction guide for installing their widget.

4. AddThis

You spend a ton of time creating content. But what happens after you publish it to your website?

Sure, in a perfect world all of your site traffic will come organically. But you and I both know that isn’t always the case. It’s crucial for you to find other ways to get people to land on your website.

One of the best ways to do this is by leveraging your existing website visitors. Encourage them to share your content with their friends, family, co-workers, and peers via social media.

Here’s the thing. People won’t necessarily go out of their way to do this unless you make it easy for them.

That’s where the AddThis widget comes into play.

You can connect to more than 200 social networks with the share buttons offered by the AddThis widget. All of the buttons are mobile-friendly and fully customizable.

Formatting for the share buttons include:

  • Floating bar
  • Image sharing
  • Expanding
  • Inline

These options ensure that no matter what type of website design you have, you’ll be able to seamlessly integrate these share buttons without it feeling too intrusive for your visitors.

Now people can share your content on social media with just one click, which will ultimately increase awareness and drive more traffic to your website.

5. Survio

In the past, I’ve explained how to use surveys to make more money for your business.

With widgets like Survio, this process has become easier than ever before. You can simply create a new survey in just a few minutes and integrate it into your website with the Survio widget.

It’s a clean and professional way to gather more information from your website visitors.

Premium surveys are mobile-friendly, safe, come with email support, and SSL. You’ll also be able to evaluate the responses with real-time results.

They have hundreds of survey templates and examples for you to choose from. Here are just a handful of examples to give you an idea of how extensive the options:

  • Brand awareness
  • Buying experience
  • Service cancelation
  • Tech support
  • Event planning
  • Team building
  • Volunteer
  • Bank
  • Cafe
  • Cosmetics and beauty salon
  • Hotel guest
  • Shipping service

The list goes on and on. So no matter what type of business or website you have, you’ll be able to find a template that’s suitable for your survey needs.

6. MailChimp

Collecting email addresses and growing your email list needs to be a priority for all websites. This statement holds true for blogs, personal sites, ecommerce companies, SaaS, and really any time of site that you an imagine.

In order to effectively collect emails from website visitors, you need to have signup forms strategically placed throughout your landing pages.

If you’re using MailChimp for email marketing services, then the MailChimp signup widget is an absolute must-have for your website.

It’s as simple as copying and pasting the signup form code into your site’s HTML wherever you want the widget to appear.

MailChimp offers four types of forms for you to choose from:

  • Classic
  • Condensed
  • Horizontal
  • Unstyled

After you choose the type of form, you can customize the title, form fields, and enable features like re-CAPTCHA to eliminate spam signups.

These widgets are compatible with platforms like WordPress, Jimdo, Webs, Weebly, Yola, Blogger, and Blogspot.

7. GetResponse

GetResponse is another popular marketing software for email. But with that said, it also has features and benefits that go beyond email marketing.

The widgets offered by GetResponse correspond with some of the features that they offer.

For example, they have a standard subscribe widget, similar to the one we just discussed from MailChimp. It’s an effective way to get more email subscribers with an opt-in form.

But GetResponse also has a contact widget, which is used for creating contact forms that are fully customizable.

This is a great way for your website visitors to communicate with you and provide feedback.

In addition to the subscribe and contact widgets, GetResponse also has a survey widget that can be used for a wide range of functions.

  • Exit surveys
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Market research

You can also use your surveys to collect email addresses. The widget can integrate with other platforms like MailChimp, Mailer, and HubSpot. So they don’t force you to use their email marketing software if you’re already using another provider.

8. Gumroad

Gumroad is made for those of you who are using your website to sell a digital product or service.

I wouldn’t recommend it for full-fledged ecommerce sites. In those instances, you’ll definitely want to be using an ecommerce platform.

But for example, if you run a blog and want to sell an ebook, you can easily use the Gumroad widget to make that happen. It’s extremely simple to install.

All I did was type “Buy From Quick Sprout” into the form field and the button automatically changed. Then you can decide if you want to auto-trigger the payment form and allow single-product purchases.

After that, the code is automatically generated based on your settings. Then it’s just a matter of copying and pasting it into your website.

Processing payments with this widget will cost you 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction.

That pricing is actually pretty competitive if you compare it to the best payment methods for your ecommerce site. But again, if you’re just selling one digital product, you don’t necessarily need to go through all the steps of setting up an ecommerce website.

Just install the Gumroad widget instead.

9. Swiftype

How can your website visitors find what they’re looking for? I’m sure you have a menu and sitemap that are easy to follow, but navigating that way isn’t always user-friendly.

Adding a search bar widget like Swiftype is a solution to this problem.

Industry giants like CBS, AOL, BMW, AT&T, and Samsung are using this widget to add search functionality to their websites.

The way that this widget works is simple.

All you need to do is enter the address of your website, and Swiftype will index all of the content. Then it will essentially create a real-time search engine that’s specific to everything on your site.

No coding is required to operate this widget. But if you’re a developer, Swiftype has an API available to give you added control.

The widget can autocomplete searches based on what users start typing. It will also refine the search based on things like price, location, date, or type of content.

Swiftype searches are intelligent, so you’ll benefit from spellcheck, stemming, bigram matching, phrase matching, and synonyms. All of this ensures that your website visitors are seeing as many relevant results as possible.

10. Wufoo

Wufoo is an online form-building widget.

It allows you to create surveys, invitations, contact forms, registrations, and payment information.

All you need to do is create a form using their form builder. Then embed it on your website. Wufoo will email or text you whenever the data from your forms become available. You also have the option to set up real-time analytics.

There are more than 400 form templates for you to choose from. You can also set custom rules and create dynamic visualizations with charts and graphs.

Conclusion

Adding a widget to your site can truly take it to the next level.

You can benefit from enhanced functionality and professionalism while improving the user experience simultaneously.

There are more widgets out there than I can count. But these 10 are my favorite. They are flexible, functional, and can be used on a wide range of different websites.

I tried to make sure I included something for everyone on here. So I’m confident that you’ll find the widget that you’re looking for on this list.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

As an ecommerce store, driving traffic to your website is only half of the battle. That in itself is a tall task, but so much more needs to be done in order for you to actually generate sales.

Take a moment to put yourself into the minds of the consumers.

Clearly, they’re somewhat interested in whatever you’re selling. Maybe they found you from an organic search of a product they need or maybe they clicked on a PPC advertisement. It’s possible that they found your site from a social media campaign.

The way they found you really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that they landed on your site because of interest.

You’ve done a great job of setting up your site navigation, making it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for. This brings them to the product page, which is what we’ll be focusing on in this guide.

Here’s what you need to realize. When a website visitor lands on your product page, they’re often just a click away from completing the purchase process. But that won’t happen if those landing pages aren’t optimized for conversions.

Failure to properly design and optimize product pages is a mistake that I see ecommerce sites make all of the time. That’s what inspired me to write this guide.

I’ll explain everything you need to know about crafting product pages that drive conversions.

Elements of a product page

Before we continue, I want to make sure you understand exactly what needs to be included on every product page. All product pages should have the same elements.

  • The Product
  • Branding
  • Design
  • Copywriting

First and foremost, your product always needs to be the center of attention. While this may seem obvious, I’ve seen some ecommerce sites position their products in a way that appears to be an afterthought.

Branding needs to be everywhere on your website. While you may have branding on your homepage or other interior pages, you can’t forget to add this to your product pages. Depending on where your traffic is coming from, not everyone who lands on a product page will see your homepage.

Website design is one of the most crucial elements of a product page. Even if you include all of the other proper elements, it’s useless if the design isn’t functional or user-friendly.

You can’t sell products without text. That’s why your sales copy is a critical element. The writing needs to flow well with your design and branding to tie everything together.

Now that you know what needs to be on your product pages, let’s look at some more specific tips for product page optimization.

Make sure your CTA is clear and obvious

How does someone buy an item from your product page?

They need to click on a button that allows them to check out. But if that button is buried somewhere on the page, you won’t drive as many conversions.

Take a look at this product page from Blenders Eyewear.

There’s only one button on this entire page that can be clicked—add to cart.

It’s big, bold, and the only text on the screen with a background color.  In fact, aside from the product itself, the CTA here is the most prominent part of the page. It can’t be missed.

Go to your website and look at your product pages. See if your CTA is as clear and obvious as this one.

If your visitors can’t spot the button right away, it’s a problem.

Your CTA must be in view at all times. If users have to scroll to find it, then it’s not going to have a high conversion rate.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Don’t place your conversion CTA near other CTAs on your site. For example, the “buy now” button shouldn’t be positioned next to a “subscribe” button.

While collecting emails is important, that doesn’t belong above the fold on your product page, and it certainly shouldn’t be somewhere that will draw attention away from your transactional CTA.

Don’t get too cute or fancy with the wording of your call-to-action either. Something along the lines of “buy now” or “add to cart” is just fine. Trying to be creative here can just end up confusing your customers.

Use professional photography

Unlike brick and mortar retail, online consumers rely heavily on images to make their buying decisions.

Your smartphone might take a great picture, but you should not be using it to take product photos. Everything needs to be handled by a professional.

Get a photographer to handle photoshoots with professional equipment and editing software. It’s worth it to spend extra on these things in order to get the best shot. You’ll need to take photos from every possible angle.

With that said, you also need to make sure that you’re taking the “right” photos for your product pages.

For example, let’s say you’re selling something like a wristwatch. A photo of a watch alone on a table doesn’t really add much value to the consumer. But if you put it on someone’s wrist, it gives them a better indication of the product will look if they buy it.

Take a look at the images on this product page from MVMT.

This is great photography. They used the “right” images because all of the shots show the product on a person’s wrist.

You can see how it looks from every angle. The first image shows how it looks from the first person perspective of the model looking down to check the time. Then it includes some other shots of how it will look from someone else’s view.

Oh yeah—they even show what the watch looks like if you’re jumping out of a plane.

These photos tell the full story about the product. It’s stylish, looks great, and can be worn as casual wear and active wear alike.

Include social proof

No matter how independent or unique a person claims to be, consumers will still follow the lead of others. Why should they buy a product if nobody else has?

They’ll have no way of telling if your product is good, useful, or just a waste of their money. If they’re unable to get these questions answered, then they probably won’t buy.

That’s why you need to include social proof on your product pages.

84% of people trust an online review as much as a recommendation from a friend. After reading between one and six reviews, 68% of customers form an opinion about a brand or product.

It’s your job to encourage customer reviews. After someone makes a purchase, send a follow-up email and ask them to rate or review the product. The more reviews you get, the better off you’ll be.

In fact, 49% of consumers say that they value the quantity of online reviews when they’re evaluating a business.

Blenders Eyewear, one of the examples we looked at earlier, had reviews on their product page. Just make sure you don’t let the reviews distract the user from buying.

Here’s another example of this strategy used by Brooks.

This product has 68 reviews and it’s rated 5/5 stars by their customers. You can see this information above the fold, and near the product description.

However, the actual reviews aren’t shown here. If you click on them, it will bring you to the bottom of the page.

That’s where the reviews belong.

If these were positioned elsewhere on the page, it would be too distracting and take away from the product and CTA. But by including some information above the fold, and giving customers easy access to find the reviews and read them, it helps aid their buying decision.

Visitors can do all of this without having to go to another landing page or third-party review sites.

Add videos

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how much is a video worth?

Earlier I explained the importance of allowing your customers to get a better understanding of your products with images. But a video really gives them a closer look at everything.

Videos can showcase your products more than a picture ever could.

In fact, 90% of people say that product videos are helpful during the buying process. 70% of marketers say that videos convert higher than any other type of content.

After watching a video, 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product.

Check out this example of a product page from GoPro.

It’s a different approach compared to some of the other examples we’ve looked at so far.

Videos are especially important for this company since they’re selling a camera on this page. The video shows exactly what type of content can be captured with this camera.

Videos are great for those of you who have products that need a little bit more explanation. It’s not necessarily required if you’re selling something simple, like a plain shirt.

But with that said, you can still include videos, even if you’re selling something straightforward. Allbirds is a shoe company that has videos on their product pages of people walking in their shoes.

For those of you that have a product that’s a bit more complex and requires further explanation, adding a “how to” video or product demonstration can be very helpful to the consumer.

Carefully craft product descriptions

This is one of the more common mistakes that I see on ecommerce product pages. Everything looks great until the description.

While your product page should definitely be visually appealing with photos and videos, you still need to have some text on the page.

Keep it short. Don’t go overboard with long paragraphs. Nobody wants to read large blocks of text. You can use bullet points to shorten the content and make it easier for people to read.

Don’t be boring. Establish a brand voice. Know your audience and what they want to hear.

If your target market is business professionals over the age of 50, the description would be different then if you were trying to reach college students.

Look at this product description from Dr. Squatch, an ecommerce site that sells men’s soap.

This particular bar of soap was inspired by the scent of beer.

Take a closer look at some of the text in this description. They use phrasing like “drag a lawn chair into the shower” and “sip a couple cold cruisers.”

Their product isn’t for everyone. So they’re comfortable using slang to target a specific market.

Normally, I’d say steer clear of this type of phrasing. But in this case, it’s part of the company’s overall branding strategy.

Understand your customer and what they want in a product. Then work that into the description.

Don’t just rush through the process and say “soap that smells like beer.” Does this describe the product? Sure.

But will it make anyone want to buy it? Probably not.

Justify your pricing

Your pricing strategy is part of your product page since the price will obviously need to be on display.

This is your chance to justify your pricing and show your product’s value.

The description, pictures, videos, and everything else on the page needs to explain exactly why your product is priced a certain way. This is especially true for those of you who are selling products at higher price points.

Look at this example from Lululemon.

They have a quick “why we made this” description directly under the price.

In short, it explains that the product doesn’t have seams, is made with anti-stink technology, is ventilated, and made for training.

It’s not just a regular t-shirt for wearing to bed or around the house. So the high price tag of $68 for a seemingly simple shirt is justifiable.

Without that information, consumers may be a bit more reluctant to buy.

A/B test everything

Truthfully, you won’t know for sure if your product page is fully optimized until you try different approaches.

That’s why every element of the page should be A/B tested over and over again.

  • CTA wording
  • CTA placement
  • CTA color
  • Description
  • Review placement
  • Price placement
  • Price size

The list goes on and on. It’s an ongoing process.

Even as your conversion rates rise, don’t assume that they can’t get any higher. Keep running tests to be sure.

Conclusion

Product pages are the most important components of your ecommerce site.

When a website visitor lands on one of these pages, they are moments away from converting. It’s your job to make sure that every product page is optimized to drive sales.

Use this guide as a reference to help you make sure that your pages have all of the crucial elements needed. Then follow the examples that I showed you and apply those same principles to your website.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

Unlike some of the other web hosting providers on the market, iPage isn’t as well-known. But the company has been around for more than 20 years and hosts over one million websites with its two data centers.

If you stumbled upon iPage for web hosting, it’s probably because you were looking for an inexpensive hosting plan.

With hosting plans offered as low as $1.99 per month, that’s the major draw for this web host.

But the cheapest web host on the market isn’t always the best—or is it? That’s what inspired me to write this guide.

I’ve been getting lots of questions lately about my opinion on iPage. How does its low-cost factor into its performance?

For those of you who are looking for a budget web host, iPage might be an option for you to consider. But before you make that decision, read through this review to make sure you have as much information as possible.

iPage Web Hosting Plans

Before we talk about the pros, cons, and performance of iPage, I want to give you a brief overview of the plans that they offer. For a low-cost web host, they actually have quite a few options for you to choose from.

Shared hosting

Like most web hosts, the shared hosting plan from iPage is the least expensive option.

But what’s unique about this web host compared to other providers on the market is the lack of shared hosting plan options. Typically, web hosts offer at least two or three different pricing tiers for shared hosting, each with different features and benefits.

iPage, on the other hand, just has this one plan.

If you decide to use iPage’s shared hosting service, you’ll also get:

  • Free domain
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free email addresses

You can host an unlimited number of domains on the shared plan as well.

Pricing starts at $1.99 per month if you sign up for a three-year contract. Rates for a two-year contract and one-year contract start at $2.49 per month and $2.99 per month, respectively.

VPS hosting

If you’re interested in a virtual private server, iPage has what you’re looking for. Unlike the shared plan, VPS hosting with iPage does come with different pricing tiers and plan options.

  • Basic VPS
  • Business VPS
  • Optimum VPS

Here’s a comparison of those three plans.

As expected, the more you pay, the more features you’ll get. CPU, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth increases at each tier.

While iPage has a reputation for being a low-cost web hosting provider, their VPS plans are not necessarily cheaper than other web hosts on the market. Their VPS services are priced about even to or higher than some other well-known hosting providers.

All of the pricing you see from the image above is the introductory offer for a three-year plan. Rates will increase when your plan renews and if you commit to a shorter term contract length.

With a VPS plan, you’ll have more customizable options. iPage will give you root access and the ability to customize your software and hosting environment.

Dedicated servers

The dedicated servers from iPage are a step above the VPS plans. You can get up to 16GB of RAM, 1,000 GB of disk space, 15 TB, of bandwidth, and 5 IP addresses with a dedicated server

Introductory rates for a three-year contract are as follows:

  • Startup — $119.99 per month
  • Professional — $151.99 per month
  • Enterprise — $191.99 per month

Those plans renew at $149.99, $194.99, and $239.99. Again, for a budget web host, I wouldn’t necessarily say that those price points are cheap.

But the dedicated servers give you complete customization. There are no restrictions to your software and hosting environment, these plans were made for those of you with more technical skill levels.

You won’t be sharing any resources with other websites if you use a dedicated server from iPage.

WordPress hosting

iPage offers web hosting solutions specifically for WordPress. If you want to start building a new WordPress website, there are two plans for you to consider.

  • WP Starter — $3.75 per month
  • WP Essential — $6.95 per month

These rates are definitely more aligned with iPage’s reputation of being a low-cost web hosting provider.

Both plans come with unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, customized control panel, as well as some pre-installed themes and plugins. The WP Essential plan also has automatic malware removal, added security, and expert WordPress support.

The rates renew at $7.49 and $10.49 per month.

Benefits of iPage for web hosting

Now that you’ve had a chance to review the hosting options offered by iPage, it’s time for us to look at the best parts of this web host.

Low pricing

Based on the plans we’ve covered, you can see that iPage has a wide range of options to choose from. There are some budget hosting solutions, as well as some higher-end offers with added features and functionality.

But ultimately, iPage is best-known for its low pricing. With shared plans offered as low as $1.99 per month, it’s very appealing to new website owners who are on a budget.

The only drawback of this low pricing is that you need to commit for three years and pay for it upfront to get that rate. Unlike other web hosts on the market, iPage does not offer month-to-month plans.

Money-back guarantee

While iPage doesn’t offer free trials or month-to-month rates, the provider still stands behind their services. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

It’s a “no questions asked” policy. If you’re unsatisfied for any reason, iPage will fully refund your hosting fees.

However, there is a non-refundable $15 fee if you registered your domain with iPage. They set this up to ensure that you won’t lose your domain if you want to transfer it to another provider.

I usually wouldn’t recommend a hosting provider that doesn’t offer some type of money-back promise. So the fact that iPage does this for their customers is definitely a positive. You can try them out knowing that you have a month to change your mind.

High uptime

At the end of the day, performance is really what matters the most. If your web host can’t keep your website up and running, then it’s essentially useless.

So, how well do iPage’s low-cost plans perform? Let’s take a look.

Hosting Facts conducted a study on the performance of 32 different web hosts. They calculated the average uptime rates for each host throughout the course of one year.

As you can see from the chart, iPage cracked the top 10, ranking eighth out of the 32 web hosts in the study. The average uptime rate of 99.975% in 2018 was good enough to land this provider in the top 25% of web hosts.

Overall, that’s a very strong uptime. I’d definitely be happy with that number, especially considering the fact that it’s achievable at such a low cost.

With that said, the length of their downtime was nearly triple the amount of the top host on the list. But I truthfully wasn’t expecting iPage to compete with those figures.

It’s also worth noting that unlike other web hosts, iPage doesn’t guarantee a certain uptime rate. So if they fail to meet a certain standard, you won’t be refunded or compensated in any way. However, they do offer uptime monitoring, so you’ll be notified if your site goes down.

Third-party tools

iPage is compatible with lots of third party tools and platforms. Here’s a list to name a few.

CMS tools:

  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Joomla

Forum tools:

  • Gbook
  • phpBB
  • SMF

Blogging tools:

  • PixelPost
  • B2evolution

Photo gallery tools:

  • ZenPhoto
  • Gallery2

iPage is also compatible with ecommerce solutions like Zen Cart, OpenCart, PrestaShop, AgoraCart, TomatoCart, and OSCommerce.

Helpful support

We already talked about the money-back guarantee. But beyond that, iPage also offers 24/7 phone and live chat support.

They also have an extensive knowledge base, with informative guides, tutorials, and lots of other helpful information about their platform, tools, and services.

So no matter what type of question you have or problem you run into, I’m confident that you’ll be able to get that solution resolved quickly and efficiently with iPage support.

Other considerations

As expected with a low-cost web hosting provider, iPage has its fair share of flaws. I’ll let you know about some of the downsides of using their services. You can use this information to see if these drawbacks are worth the low price.

Loading speed isn’t ideal

Again, performance is key when it comes to web hosting. Aside from uptime, which we already discussed, loading speed usually the next metric that we look at.

Check out the response times for an iPage test site over the past 12 months.

The average response time from this sample is 755 ms.

Honestly, it’s not terrible. But this number is a little too close to a full second page loading time for my liking.

Plus, this is just a test website. If you’re going to be adding pictures, video, and other media files to your site, it will slow down even more.

While iPage definitely doesn’t have the worst loading times we’ve seen, they certainly don’t have the best either.

Not a “green” web host

This may not be a big deal for some of you, but I figured it was still worth mentioning.

iPage used to have environmentally-friendly web hosting. They had a landing page explaining that they ran on wind power and had a certified green certificate. However, as of late last year, this page has been removed from their website. I tried to Google it and got a 404 error instead.

The web host no longer appears on the EPA Green Power Partner List either.

Extra fees for add-ons

iPage is a low-cost web hosting provider. I think it’s safe to say that we established that. However, their services end up costing more than you might think.

Even if you choose the lowest plan of $1.99 per month for three years, you’ll still have to pay extra for things like:

  • Domain privacy
  • Website security
  • Site backup and restore
  • Website builder

These are things that usually come free with other hosting providers.

So in your head, you might be thinking $2 per month for 36 months is just $72. Not a bad deal, right?

But as you can see from this checkout page, you’ll end up paying significantly more than that amount for some pretty basic features.

Paid site migrations

To entice customers to switch providers, most web hosts will offer a free site migration. But iPage doesn’t do that for new customers.

It will cost you $150 for their tech support to move your site to iPage servers. That cost only covers one website, which is expensive. To put that into perspective for you, Bluehost also charges $150 for site migratations, but they’ll move up to five sites for that same rate.

Unless you’re a tech wizard, you probably don’t want to try and migrate your website on your own. So this is another cost that you’ll have to incur.

Conclusion

Do I recommend iPage for web hosting?

In short, yes. They have low-cost shared hosting plans, as well as options for VPS, dedicated servers, and WordPress hosting.

Just be aware that those advertised rates have some conditions attached to them. You’ll need to commit for three years to get the best price, and then your rates will go up when it’s time to renew. Plus, you’ll need to pay extra for all of your add-ons.

With all of that in mind, iPage is still a reputable and reliable web host with high uptime rates and great customer support.

For those of you who are on a budget but still aren’t sold on iPage, check out my list of the best cheap web hosting services for some alternative solutions.

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More than 500 websites are being built on WordPress every day. This platform powers 14.7% of the top 100 websites across the globe.

On average, 17 new posts get published on WordPress every second. In a month, WordPress is searched on Google more than 37 million times.

WordPress is a powerful CMS. More than 19.5 million sites across the world use the platform.

So for those of you who are new to the growing WordPress network, welcome to the club. Launching a new website can be intimidating if it’s your first time. But if you can quickly learn some tips and tricks on WordPress, it will make your life much easier.

Some of you may have been using WordPress for a while. Others might have had some failed sites and need some guidance moving forward.

Regardless of your situation, this guide will help you succeed.

While I definitely wrote the guide with WordPress beginners in mind, some of these tips are being overlooked by people who have been using WordPress for years.

1. Find the right web hosting plan

WordPress is an open-source CMS (content management system). Simply put, it’s a tool for creating and managing websites. You can use WordPress to build a personal blog, business website, ecommerce store, or anything in between.

But the platform itself does not host websites. This is a common misconception that I find with prospective website owners.

WordPress recommends three different web hosting options:

With that said, you can use any web hosting provider that meets the WordPress minimum hosting requirements. Basically, your host needs to have a PHP version of 7.3 or higher. It needs a MySQL version of 5.6 or higher or MariaDB version 10.1 or higher. Your host also needs HTTPS support.

When it comes to web hosting, there are lots of different options to choose from. After you find the best web hosting provider, you’ll also have to determine the type of hosting you need. Shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, and cloud hosting are the most popular options.

Choosing the right plan and host from the beginning is crucial. It’s important that you find a plan that gives you enough resources to meet your traffic needs.

Picking the wrong hosting plan can end up causing slow loading times, crashes, and downtimes. Plus, changing hosts down the road can be a pain.

2. Pick a quality theme

The options are seemingly endless when it comes to picking a WordPress theme. You can browse for options from the WordPress theme directory.

However, too many people make the mistake of rushing when they pick a theme. That’s not going to benefit you at all.

There are tens of thousands of themes out there. Not all of them are offered directly from the WordPress theme directory.

Resources like ThemeForest have nearly 46,000 themes to choose from. In order to get a quality theme, you might have to pay. It’s not a huge expense, and most themes are reasonably priced.

Your theme should also be based on the type of website you have. For example, the best WordPress themes for blogs will be different than the best ecommerce WordPress themes.

That’s why you should always look at the live demos of themes. It will give you a chance to try a theme out before you install it. This way you’ll be able to get a better idea of the look and feel of a theme from the user’s perspective.

It should go without saying, but you need to make sure that any theme you install is mobile-responsive. Themes are useless if they can’t be displayed properly on mobile devices.

3. Use Google Analytics

It’s impossible to know how well your site is doing unless you can measure its performance metrics. WordPress alone won’t give you enough information.

But by installing a Google Analytics plugin, you’ll be able to get added insight into how site visitors are behaving on your pages.

MonsterInsights is a top option to consider for this.

The plugin has more than 2 million active installations. It’s definitely the most popular Google Analytics plugin on the market today.

After installing this, you’ll have access to audience reports, behavior reports, content reports, and ecommerce reports (if applicable).

The best part about using a Google Analytics plugin is that you’ll be able to view all of your data directly on your WordPress admin dashboard. It’s better than having to bounce around between multiple sites and platforms to access this information.

4. Install a plugin for SEO

In addition to Google Analytics, you’ll also want to use a WordPress SEO plugin. There are hundreds of options out there, but I personally recommend Yoast SEO.

Without a proper SEO strategy, your WordPress site won’t get much organic traffic. This is crucial for survival in today’s day and age.

You can’t just assume that your content alone is good enough to bring people to your site. I don’t care what type of website you have or what industry you’re in, SEO needs to be a top priority.

A plugin like this makes things easier for you whenever you want to optimize your site for SEO.

It will analyze keywords and content to ensure that you’re taking the right approach. Yoast also helps you handle the technical side of SEO, like managing your sitemaps or robots.txt files.

5. Don’t use too many plugins

I know this may sound contradictory to my last two tips, but you need to limit your use of plugins.

Google Analytics and SEO plugins are definitely necessary, as with some other plugins to add functionality to your website. There are great plugins for things like:

  • Caching
  • Forms
  • Directories
  • Bookings
  • Memberships
  • Popups
  • Backups
  • Security

But with that said, you don’t need a plugin for every category. If you’re not going to actually add popups to your website, you don’t need a popup plugin. Don’t install a bookings plugin unless you run a business that would benefit from it.

Installing too many WordPress plugins can ultimately make your site slower. Adding the extra code associated with a plugin can weigh down your website.

More plugins don’t necessarily translate to a better or more functional website. So just don’t go overboard when you’re installing them. Limit plugins to ones that you’ll actually need and use.

6. Compress images

Like excess plugins, images are another way to slow your website down. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from using lots of images in your content.

In fact, I encourage you to use as many images as possible, all over your website. Incorporate them into your blog posts, use them on landing pages, add them to product pages and descriptions as well.

There aren’t many circumstances where I would say an image doesn’t belong on your site.

But with that said, these media files are large, and result in slower loading times. That’s why every image should be compressed before it’s published.

I’d recommend using a tool like the Kraken Image Optimizer.

As you can see from this example, Kraken reduced this file size by 61%. I like this tool because you can handle all of your image compression on the web, without forcing you to download any software.

If you’d rather do this in WordPress, you’ll need to install a plugin.

7. Modify your permalinks

Are you familiar with permalinks?

This is the part of the web address that comes after the domain name. These are the web addresses of each individual landing page and blog post.

Each time you create a new page or post on WordPress, it automatically generates a new permalink by default. However, these defaults need to be changed before you publish the page.

A carefully crafted and custom permalink is very valuable. It gives your website visitors an understanding of what the page is about, without having to read the content.

They keep everything organized, and can be used by search engines and site visitors alike for accessing content.

To modify your permalinks, navigate to the “Settings” option from your dashboard. From here you’ll see a “Permalinks” button. The “Post Name” option is the one that will provide the most SEO value, so that’s what you should go with.

8. Prioritize safety

We discussed the popularity of WordPress earlier. Since it’s so common for websites to use this platform, it’s also common for hackers to target WordPress sites.

You need to update your WordPress version whenever a new one comes out. This will help you avoid some bugs and hackers. But that alone won’t be enough to keep your site secure.

There are other steps you can take to beef up the security of your WordPress site.

The first thing you should do is get an SSL certificate. This will encrypt information on your site, including sensitive details like customer data. The best web hosting services (like the ones we mentioned earlier) will usually include an SSL certificate.

You should also be backing up your site on a regular basis. If something goes wrong and your content gets lost, you don’t want to be forced to start over from scratch. There are plugins you can install for backups, as well as plugins made for enhancing your site’s security.

9. Learn how to use heading tags and meta tags

These are meta tags that appear in SERPs.

I’m sure you’ve seen them before.

Heading tags get used within your content. For example, this blog post that you’re reading right now has 12 tags. There’s a title tag at the top, a heading for each of the 10 tips, and a conclusion tag at the bottom.

Both meta tags and title tags have SEO benefits. They also make it content easier for website visitors to consume content.

Imagine trying to read this post without these headers? It would not be as easy.

Based on which type of header is used, it ranks the tag’s significance on the page. The size of the text will change based on this as well. For example, H1 tags are the biggest and most important, while an H6 tag is smaller and less important.

If you’re not familiar with how these work, just review my guide on how to use heading tags to get more search engine traffic. I also wrote a guide on how to craft meta tags for SEO and CTR.

Both of these are valuable resources for your WordPress SEO strategy.

10. Eliminate clutter

WordPress gives you tons of customizable options for your website. You have the option to include ads, banners, and widgets all over your page.

However, all of these extras just add clutter to your website. This makes your page looks untrustworthy and unprofessional.

Adding too many elements to your website is also very distracting to your website visitors. It makes it hard for them to focus, which means your content won’t get consumed and they won’t click on your CTAs.

While it might be tempting to take advantage of everything that WordPress has to offer, in some instances, less is definitely more.

Conclusion

WordPress is one of the best content management systems on the market today. It’s easy to use, and extremely versatile for nearly every type of website.

However, WordPress isn’t really a set it and forget it platform. You’ll still need to actively manage your website.

With so many different features, functions, and add-ons to take advantage of, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. But don’t let yourself get distracted. If you follow these 10 simple WordPress tips that I’ve outlined above, your site performance will improve.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

DreamHost has been around for nearly two decades. More than 1.5 million websites are hosted by this provider.

They have over 400,000 customers, and more than 750,000 WordPress installations throughout 100+ countries worldwide.

These figures alone show that DreamHost is definitely a top player in the web hosting industry.

But how good is their web hosting service? Like most providers, DreamHost offers a wide range of web hosting types, plans, and services.

I’ll give you an in-depth analysis of everything they offer, so you have enough information to decide if DreamHost is the best web hosting service for your website.

DreamHost Web Hosting Plans

Compared to other web hosting providers, DreamHost definitely has one of the most extensive lists of hosting options to choose from. They offer a wide range of hosting types and price points to meet the needs of nearly any website.

Shared hosting

DreamHost has two tiers of shared hosting plans; Starter and Unlimited. They offer three-year, one-year, and month-to-month contracts for each plan. Although the longer you commit, the less expensive your rate will be.

Pricing for the Starter plan starts at $2.59, $3.95, and $4.95 per month, depending on the length of your contract terms. The Unlimited plan goes for $5.95, $6.95, or $10.95 per month.

As the name implies, the Stater package is made for new websites that are just starting out.

The Unlimited plan doesn’t have a cap on how many websites you can host. It also comes with free email for your domain, which is a paid add-on with the Starter plan.

Both of these shared plans are best for beginners who are on a tight budget.

VPS hosting

The virtual private server plans offered by DreamHost are definitely a step up from the shared options. You’ll benefit from managed performance, along with enhanced security and updates.

A VPS from DreamHost gives your website its own server resources, which speeds up the loading times.

As your website grows, your VPS plan allows you to upgrade your storage and RAM in less than 10 seconds. It’s extremely easy for anyone to set up, regardless of your technical skill level.

All VPS plans are managed, meaning you won’t have to worry about dealing directly with any servers. This is fully handled by the support and operational teams at DreamHost.

The VPS hosting options also support reseller and sub accounts for those of you who plan to manage websites for your clients.

There are four different tiers of VPS pricing from DreamHost. Here’s a comparison of all four.

As you can see, they have plans that support a wide range of website types and business needs. All of the pricing shown above is for three-year contracts.

The price per month will increase if you go with a one-year contract or month-to-month plan.

Dedicated hosting

DreamHost’s dedicated servers can be rented annually or month-to-month. Unlike the shared and VPS plans, they don’t offer three-year contracts for dedicated hosting.

With that said, the dedicated hosting plans provide the most extensive and customizable options.

Plans are segmented into two categories:

  • Standard
  • Enhanced

But within each category, you can choose how much RAM and disk space you want.

The Standard plan has three options, and the enhanced plan has six options. So overall, you can choose between nine different plans for your dedicated server.

As expected, price increases as you add storage. Rates range from $149 per month to $379 per month for annual contracts.

The dedicated servers from DreamHost are for those of you who want complete control. You’ll have full root access, and the ability to fully manage your websites, email addresses, and domains.

Cloud hosting

DreamCompute is the cloud hosting service offered by DreamHost. It’s a great choice for those of you who want more control, without the added cost.

Cloud hosting gives you the ability to change your settings on-demand. This highly benefits people with growing websites that see traffic spikes.

The best part about this plan is that the pricing is flexible.

Unlike every other plan we’ve seen so far offered by DreamHost, the cloud hosting is not billed at a fixed monthly rate.

Instead, they have a maximum amount that you’ll get billed per month, depending on the size of the server you choose. But you only get charged for what you actually use.

Flexible pricing is definitely one of the top benefits of cloud hosting in general. Not every web hosting provider offers cloud hosting plans, so it’s nice to see that a reputable company like DreamHost has this option for its customers.

WordPress hosting

DreamHost has plans that are specifically intended for WordPress users as well. Considering that more than 30% of the entire Internet is powered by WordPress, it’s a great option to have if you’re using this CMS.

Along with BlueHost and SiteGround, DreamHost is one of the three web hosting providers that are “officially” recommended on the WordPress website.

DreamHost offers:

  • Shared hosting for WordPress
  • Managed WordPress hosting
  • VPS for WordPress

If you take advantage of one of these options, DreamHost will install WordPress for you. You’ll be able to set up everything with just one click. You’ll also benefit from automatic WordPress updates and automated daily backups of your WordPress site.

Benefits of DreamHost for web hosting

Now that you’ve had a chance to get familiar with the wide range of web hosting options offered by DreamHost, it’s time to look at the top features and benefits of this provider.

Sufficient loading speeds

Truthfully, DreamHost doesn’t have the fastest loading speeds we’ve seen compared to other web hosting providers. This metric is definitely one of the most important factors to take into consideration when you’re evaluating a web host.

But with that said, they definitely aren’t the slowest either. Here’s a look at the average response times on a DreamHost test website through the first half of this year.

Overall, the average response time for the year is 740 ms.

In reality, that’s very fast. But again, I’ve seen sites that load in roughly half the time of DreamHost. With that said, I’d say these averages are sufficient. They aren’t necessarily the fastest web host on the market today, but you should still be happy with their speeds.

High uptime rates

If you look at the uptime rates on the same chart above, you’ll see that DreamHost has a 99.928% average uptime so far this year.

According to a recent case study conducted by Hosting Facts, the average uptime of 32 popular web hosts is 99.59%. So DreamHost is above that average.

With that said, they fall outside of the top 10 hosts in terms of uptime.

You can look at this the same way you look at their page loading speed. It’s a high number, and more than sufficient for your website, but it’s just not the best compared to the competition.

According to the DreamHost terms of service, they guarantee a 100% uptime rate. So if they don’t meet that standard, you’ll receive a credit for one day of service, for every hour that your site is down.

However, that credit will max out at 10% of your next prepaid hosting renewal. This means that it’s a credit toward the next time you’re billed, as opposed to a refund for what you’ve already paid.

It’s also worth noting that any scheduled maintenance or user errors that cause downtime don’t apply to this promise.

Money-back guarantee

Web hosting providers don’t typically offer free trials. In order to see if you’re happy with their service, you’ll need to sign up.

We’ve seen lots of web hosting providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you’re not happy with your service in the first month, you’re entitled to a refund.

But DreamHost goes above and beyond anything we’ve seen in terms of a money-back guarantee.

Yes, you read that correctly. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you.

DreamHost offers a 97-day guarantee! That’s more than three months to try out their web hosting plan to see if you’re satisfied.

It’s worth noting that this only applies to web hosting fees, and not any add-ons that you paid for.

But when I see a hosting provider offer something like this, it tells me one thing—they stand behind their services. If they thought that the majority of their customers would be asking for refunds, they wouldn’t set up this policy.

This guarantee reduces your risk and makes you feel more confident about your purchase. I’m always more inclined to buy services from companies that stand behind what they’re selling.

Environmentally friendly

DreamHost is a “green” web hosting provider, which means they are environmentally conscious.

I know that this doesn’t necessarily impact your site’s performance, but it’s still an important factor to take into consideration.

In order to reduce their carbon footprint, DreamHost uses LED and low-mercury lighting, optimized HVAC plants at their offices. DreamHost data centers have high-efficiency coolers, use renewable energy sources, and participate in “clean wind” programs in certain areas.

Low renewal rates

It’s a common practice for web hosting providers to offer low introductory rates, and then jack up the prices when it’s time for the contract to renew.

Depending on the web host, those prices can nearly double.

But DreamHost is one of the few providers that doesn’t use this pricing strategy. Prices don’t automatically increase when you renew your contract.

Instead, DreamHost offers price breaks based on the length of your contract, which we saw earlier when I showed you their plans.

Unlimited features

DreamHost offers lots of “unlimiteds” with their web hosting plans, which isn’t always common in the industry.

With a couple of exceptions, you’ll get unlimited disk space and bandwidth with your web hosting plans. They also offer unlimited network transfers and unlimited email options.

Other considerations

DreamHost isn’t perfect. Even in the benefits listed above, we learned that although they have high uptimes and fast loading speeds, they’re not industry leaders in those categories.

That aside, there are a few other things that you should keep in mind when you’re evaluating DreamHost as a potential service provider for your website.

Paid site migrations

Lots of web hosts will throw in a free site migration as an incentive to switch to their service. But that’s not the case with DreamHost.

Unless you have a managed WordPress hosting plan, you’ll have to pay $99 for this service.

While it may not be a big deal if you’re only moving one site, this can add up quickly for those of you who are managing websites for your clients.

There are some restrictions for migrations as well. They can’t move multisite WordPress sites or website builder sites.

You can find a step-by-step instruction guide on how to do this manually on their website, but it’s not an easy task. I wouldn’t recommend this process if you’re a beginner.

Limited support

This piggybacks off of our last point. It seems like other web hosts out there are more willing to do some heavy lifting for their customers.

Beyond that, they have a knowledge base and forums that can be helpful for finding solutions to any questions or problems you might have.

They claim to have 24/7 support, but if you call or try to get help via live chat after hours, you won’t always get what you’re looking for.

The chatbot on their site seems to have limited responses, even in the middle of a weekday.

This is a clip of a conversation I had when I was browsing for cloud hosting plans. The fact that “sales rep” or “sales team” didn’t register another triggered response from this AI bot is kind of surprising.

Conclusion

DreamHost is a reputable web hosting provider. While they don’t lead the way in every performance category, they still have great options for you to consider.

Would I recommend DreamHost? Absolutely.

I like this provider because they have such a wide range of hosting types and plans for you to choose from. Unlike other providers out there, DreamHost is transparent with their pricing, and won’t jack up your rates when it’s time to renew.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

The ecommerce industry is booming. It seems like everyone is coming up with different ways to get into this space.

But when we think of ecommerce our minds typically don’t jump to food. Most entrepreneurs seem to focus their efforts on inventing or modifying a new product that can solve problems

With that said, there is lots of money to be made in the online food industry.

As of 2018, the online grocery shopping in the United States is a $17.5 billion industry. But there are plenty of other ways to sell food online as well.

For example, maybe you have a restaurant and want to expand the way your customers order takeout. The global online food delivery market is growing at a 14.8% year-over-year rate.

That’s not all. Take a look at this graph from eMarketer on the projections for total online food and beverage ecommerce sales in the coming years.

Online sales in the US alone are expected to double over the next four years. So it’s safe to say that there is plenty of money to be made in this space.

Here’s the reality of the situation. Everything in our lives has gone digital. We’re ordering everything else online, so it’s only natural that online food sales is the way of the future as well.

But when you search the web for how to create an ecommerce site, the resources for selling food online are pretty scarce. That’s what inspired me to create this guide. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about building an online platform for selling food.

Understand the law

Before you do anything, you need to make sure that you’re familiar with all of the legal regulations for selling food online. This will vary depending on your location, as well as the type of food you’re selling.

For example, if you’re selling in the United States, you’re going to have to follow different guidelines than if you were selling in Europe.

Here’s something else to take into consideration. Are you planning to prepare and sell food out of your home? Or are you selling out of an industrial kitchen?

Let’s say you were making homemade cupcakes in your kitchen at home. The rules that apply to you will be different than someone who is jarring sauce in the kitchen of their restaurant.

In the United States, you’ll need to follow the Cottage Food Laws, which vary slightly from state to state. Regardless of your location, here are some guidelines that are pretty standard across the board:

  • Annual inspection from the department of health.
  • Zoning permits from the department of health and/or the department of agriculture.
  • Valid business license in your operating state.
  • Ability to properly store food (cold, dry, etc.).
  • No pets in the home or kitchen.

These are just the minimum requirements, and it barely scratches the surface. So be sure to fully review your local requirements before you start selling any food online. Otherwise, you’ll risk violations that can shut your operation down.

Find a supplier

No matter what you’re planning to sell, you need to source a reputable supplier. Whether you’re planning to sell pre-made products or if you’re cooking everything on your own, this still applies to you.

The most challenging part about finding the right supplier is establishing their legitimacy.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to prepare food in your home kitchen. Costco would be considered a reputable supplier for your ingredients. Picking apples, tomatoes, or peppers from your neighbor’s garden is not reliable, reputable, or trustworthy.

If you’d rather use an online supplier, you can try using a resource like Food Master.

This is a massive online directory of ingredients. You can browse what you’re looking for by category, or search for specific keywords.

If you’re on the fence about a supplier’s reputation, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask them for their credentials. After all, the products you buy from your supplier will ultimately be consumed by your customers. So whatever you buy from them will directly impact your business.

Just because your supplier claims that it’s selling organic produce, it may not necessarily be true. Follow the supply chain to fact check everything.

Know your niche

Everybody eats. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is a potential customer.

This is a mistake that I see new entrepreneurs in the online food industry make all of the time. They assume that everyone will enjoy what they’re selling, and they don’t go after a specific niche.

You’ll have much more success if you can clearly define your target audience before you proceed. Then you’ll be able to make necessary adjustments to meet their needs.

For example, take a look at the meal plan options offered by Green Chef.

This company is targeting people with special diet needs, such as keto, paleo, or plant-based diets.

Are you going to target working professionals who don’t have time to cook? Or are you targeting families who need healthy options for their children?

Does your site want to focus on college students living in dorms? Or elderly residents who are living on their own?

As you can gather from just these handful of potential examples, the food you’re selling and the way you market yourself would be drastically different in all of these scenarios.

So rather than trying to compete in an over-saturated industry, pick a niche and run with it.

Focus on branding

Once your niche has been established, it will be much easier for you to go through the branding process. Your brand will be a combination of what you’re offering as well as who you’re offering it to.

People can buy food anywhere. Your brand needs to explain why they should buy it from you.

Think of a company like McDonald’s. When you hear the name or see their golden arches, you automatically have an association with what they’re offering. They are the epitome of a fast food burger chain. You know exactly what you’re getting and how you’re going to get it.

That’s because they’ve done an excellent job branding themselves. In the online food industry, these are the components you need to prioritize to establish proper branding.

Brand name

Your name should go far and beyond what you’re selling. This is another common mistake that I see new food entrepreneurs make all of the time.

For example, let’s say you currently sell cupcakes out of your home kitchen. You might be tempted to name your company something like Cassie’s Cupcakes.

But this name puts you in a box. What happens when you want to start selling brownies, cookies, and other baked goods? Don’t let your brand name restrict the future expansion of your company.

Use a domain registrar like Namecheap to see if the domain name for your brand is available.

If your name isn’t available, and can’t be purchased for a reasonable price, it’s definitely in your best interest to think of another name. I’d also recommend reviewing my guide on how to choose a brandable domain name for help with this process.

Colors

Your brand’s colors will be synonymous with your branding strategy.

Don’t think colors are that important? Think again. Let me give you an example to show you what I’m talking about.

Starbucks.

Without even showing you a picture of this company, their website, or their products, I can almost guarantee that a color popped into your head when you saw the name. That’s because the brand has done a great job with their branding strategy.

I’ll give you another example from the online food space. Let’s take a look at the Blue Apron website.

This is a fairly obvious example since there’s a color in the brand name. But as expected, the business has a blue logo and the website has a blue theme. If this company had a red or an orange color scheme, then it wouldn’t make sense.

Make sure your colors appeal to your niche. It’s also important to know how certain colors are perceived.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to sell fruits and vegetables online. Having a black or brown color scheme isn’t very appealing. It doesn’t give the perception of products that are fresh. In this case, you’d be better of going with some lighter and brighter tones.

Packaging and labeling

Like any product, the packing of the food that you’re selling online needs to be carefully thought out. In addition to having your brand name, logo, and colors integrated on the package, there are other things to take into consideration as well.

Food needs to be packaged in a way that keeps it preserved. If perishable items need to be kept cold, the packaging should reflect that.

There are also certain regulations that need to be followed for shipping foods that are perishable or fragile.

Furthermore, there are other requirements for labeling food. Your labels need to include:

  • Complete list of ingredients.
  • Net quantity.
  • Weight of all combined ingredients.
  • Name and location of the company.
  • Names and locations of suppliers.
  • Expiration or “best by” dates.

Some of the packaging and labeling aspects of selling food online will fall within the legal scope of your operation, which we discussed earlier.

But it’s important to find a balance between a packaging that’s appealing to your customers while meeting all of those legal requirements.

Figure out your pricing strategy

Now it’s time to figure out how your online food store is going to make money.

You can’t just pull a price out of thin air. It’s important to factor in all of your operational and business costs to ensure that your products are priced in a way that is profitable for you. Your pre-defined niche will also factor into your pricing strategy.

For example, a business professional living and working in New York City will likely be willing to spend more on a single serving than a family of five living in the midwest.

You’ve got to come up with a pricing formula that drives ecommerce conversions. Take a look at Freshly’s pricing as a reference.

They’re using an age-old strategy, that’s not limited to the online food industry. As quantity increases, price decreases.

The cost per meal drops nearly 30% if a customer orders 12 meals per week as opposed to just 4. Sure, they’re making less per meal, but they’re getting more than double the weekly revenue from one subscription over the other.

If the cost per meal didn’t change based on quantity, then it doesn’t give your customers an incentive to spend more money.

Here’s something else to consider with the Freshly pricing strategy. All of the plans offer free shipping.

This is all related to perceived value. If you charge extra for things like shipping, it lowers the overall value of what you’re selling.

Review my guide on how to generate more profits by focusing on your pricing strategy. All of these concepts can be applied to businesses that sell food online.

Create an online store

There are two ways to sell food online. Each one is very different.

First, you can sell through online marketplaces, like Etsy or Amazon. Alternatively, you can sell through your own ecommerce platform.

If you’re going to use a marketplace, you need to meet additional regulations. These are put in place by the marketplace to protect themselves, as well as their customers. You’ll also need to get your company approved to sell through a marketplace by following specific standards.

You won’t have to take responsibility for managing a website and you’ll be able to reach an existing global audience if you decide to go through a marketplace. However, you lose some control and credibility with this method.

Personally, I’d recommend building your own ecommerce website to sell food online.

It might take a bit more effort on your end to get everything set up and running, but it gives you complete control.

In order to create your own online food store, you’ll need to choose a platform. Shopify is a great option for this.

They’ll provide you with an easy to use interface, all the tools you need to track your orders, and professional templates that are specifically designed for selling food online.

If you’re not sold on Shopify, I’d recommend Wix and BicCommerce as alternative options.

Conclusion

There is a huge demand for online food. As ecommerce continues to grow and evolve, people are buying online more than ever before.

The online food industry is growing at a rapid rate. This is the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of this situation.

But before you can start selling online, there are some preliminary steps that you need to take.

  • Educate yourself on the legal side of online food sales.
  • Source a reputable supplier.
  • Identify your target market.
  • Create a brand.
  • Learn how to properly package and label your products.

Once all of that has been taken care of, you’ll be ready to build an online store. After that’s set up, you’ll be able to sell food online with ease.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

If you’re in the market for a new web hosting service, HostGator is certainly an option that will come on your radar. It’s a reputable company within the web hosting industry.

Like most web hosts, HostGator has a wide range of plans, options, and hosting types to accommodate the needs of different websites.

Today, I want to put more emphasis on the HostGator Cloud.

Cloud hosting is new compared to other types of web hosting. Rather than your website being hosted on a local server, it’s hosted on multiple remote servers.

One of the biggest benefits of cloud hosting is the ability to scale on-demand. So it’s a great option for fast-growing websites with high volatility in their site traffic.

For those of you who are interested in using the cloud to host your website, I strongly recommend that you review my analysis of HostGator Cloud. I’ll cover their plans, pricing, benefits, and everything else that you need to know before finalizing your decision.

HostGator Cloud Web Hosting Plans

There are three cloud plans offered by HostGator. The cloud uses premium hardware, low-density servers, and multiple layers for caching. As a result, this speeds up your page loading times.

As your traffic increases, HostGator Cloud plans make it possible for you to increase your resources with a click on-demand. All of this happens without any downtime, reboots, or data migrations.

Regardless of the plan you choose, you’ll have access to HostGator’s intuitive dashboard. From here, you’ll be able to monitor all of the metrics related to your website’s performance.

That’s what you’ll use to allocate any additional resources accordingly. Basically, you have complete control of your usage with the HostGator Cloud.

Let’s take a closer look at each individual cloud hosting plan.

Hatchling Cloud

The Hatchling Cloud is the entry-level cloud hosting plan from HostGator. It’s made for hosting one domain and has 2 GB of RAM.

Like all cloud plans, the Hatchling comes with a free SSL certificate.

Pricing for this plan starts at $4.95 per month as an introductory offer. Your contract will renew at $8.95 per month.

You can add on SiteLock monitoring, CodeGuard site backups, professional email, and HostGator SEO tools for additional annual fees.

This plan is best for new websites that want to be hosted on the cloud. Even though you can allocate new resources on demand, you’ll likely want to upgrade as your total monthly traffic increases.

Baby Cloud

Here’s a quick glance at what the Baby Cloud offers compared to the Hatchling.

As you can see, the Baby Cloud can host unlimited domains, and has twice as much available CPU space, and double the memory.

The rate for new cloud customers is $7.95 per month, before renewing at $11.95 per month. Right now they’re running a deal where you can actually get the introductory rate reduced down to $6.57 per month, which is a great value.

All you need to do is sign up and the discount will automatically be applied at the checkout.

This is the most popular cloud hosting plan offered by HostGator. I’d say it will likely be the option that’s the most suitable for the majority of you.

Business Cloud

The Business Cloud is HostGator’s top-tier cloud hosting plan. Like the Baby Cloud, it also hosts an unlimited number of domains on a single plan.

However, the Business plan comes with access to 6 cores, as opposed to just 2 or 4 cores on the Hatchling and Baby plans. Your HostGator Business Cloud also has access to 6 GB of RAM.

It’s the only cloud hosting plan that comes standard with a dedicated IP address. This feature is not available on the Hatchling plan and it costs an additional $4 per month on the Baby Cloud plan.

Considering that the Business Cloud starts at $9.95 per month, that extra feature is a great value. However, it’s worth noting that renewals jump up to $17.95 per month once your initial contract expires.

Alternative Hostgator hosting options

While the primary focus of this review is on the HostGator Cloud, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the other hosting options offered by this provider.

Cloud hosting isn’t for everyone. So if you’re in the market for a more traditional type of web hosting plan, you may want to consider one of these options as an alternative.

Dedicated server hosting

With a dedicated server, your website will be renting a physical server from HostGator. This server will only be used for your site.

It’s a faster option than shared or VPS hosting since you won’t be sharing any resources, storage, or bandwidth with other websites.

Dedicated servers are ideal for those of you who are a bit more tech-savvy. If you want complete control over your server in terms of security and flexibility, this is your best bet.

Pricing for HostGator dedicated servers starts at:

  • $118.99 per month for the Value Server
  • $138.99 per month for the Power Server
  • $148.98 per month for the Enterprise Server

Compared to the cloud hosting plans, these dedicated servers are priced significantly higher.

VPS hosting

Virtual private servers from HostGator give you flexible software options. You’ll gain full root access, which gives you added control in your environment.

The VPS plans are a step up from shared hosting, but not quite as in-depth or expensive as the dedicated servers. For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at how these VPS plans are priced, so you can weigh them as an option against cloud hosting.

  • Snappy 2000 — $29.95 per month
  • Snappy 4000 — $39.95 per month
  • Snappy 8000 — $49.95 per month

If you’re already using cPannel for web hosting, SiteGround will migrate you to VPS hosting for free.

Shared hosting

If you’re on a budget and don’t want to use the cloud, shared hosting is the bottom-tier plan offered by HostGator.

Plans start at $2.75 per month, $3.95 per month, and $5.95 per month, respectively.

The problem with this option is that you’re going to be sharing resources with other websites. So if those sites have traffic spikes or higher volumes of visitors, it will impact the metrics on your site as well.

So if you want to save some money, but don’t want to sacrifice performance, cloud hosting will be a better option for you. Shared hosting doesn’t give you the flexibility to manage your resources the way that cloud hosting does.

Benefits of HostGator Cloud for web hosting

Now that you’ve had a chance to see some of the other types of web hosting offered by HostGator, let’s get back to focusing on the HostGator Cloud.

The following benefits refer specifically to the cloud plans. So for those of you who are considering one of those alternative options, I can’t guarantee the same advantages.

High uptimes and fast load times

When measuring the performance of a web hosting service, uptime and page loading speeds are two of the most important metrics to consider. Let’s take a look at how a HostGator Cloud test website performed so far this year.

Over the past six months, HostGator Cloud had a 99.995% average uptime rate. That’s about as exceptional as it gets.

As you can see from the table above, the page loading speed fluctuates quite a bit so far this year. The fastest average monthly response time was 280 ms, while the slowest was 736 ms. But on average, the response time in 2019 is 514 ms.

Truthfully, it’s definitely not the fastest loading time we’ve seen. But with that said, it’s still very fast, and far from the slowest.

Based on these numbers, I can’t say that you’ll be disappointed with your uptimes or loading speed if you decide to go with a cloud hosting plan from HostGator.

User-friendly

HostGator Cloud is very easy to use. It’s a great option for beginners, as well as users who have more experience with web hosting.

The cloud plans make it possible for you to allocate your resources as needed whenever you’re experiencing traffic spikes. That’s not the case with their other plans, which would require you to upgrade as you reached limitations on resources.

Even if you’ve never done this before, the interface is very easy to manage.

Another reason why HostGator Cloud is so user-friendly is because you won’t have to worry about outrageous pricing. These plans don’t surprise you with monthly overage fees when you exceed your plan limits. That’s a major downside of other web hosting plans.

Lots of freebies

The reason why cloud hosting from HostGator is so fast is because it doesn’t rely on typical servers. Instead, the servers from remote data centers work in unison with a person’s web browser to limit the number of resources required to host the website.

Things like managed cloud resources, data mirroring, and integrated caching make this possible, which comes free with your cloud hosting plan.

Furthermore, you’ll get free server monitoring to alert you if there are any hardware problems.

When you sign up for HostGator cloud, you’ll have access to cPannel as well. As I said before, you’ll get a free migration if you’ve been using cPannel with your current web host.

Easy access to customer support

HostGator Cloud comes with 24/7/365 customer support, which is crucial for web hosting. My favorite part about this is their support portal.

Rather than having to pick up the phone or chat online, there’s a good chance you can find the answer to your question here.

Here’s an example of a tutorial that explains the step-by-step process of how to add resources to your cloud hosting plan.

HostGator has tons of these for nearly every aspect of cloud hosting. It’s a quick way to find a solution to your problem.

With that said, phone support and live chat is always available as well. Personally, I prefer live chat as opposed to picking up the phone. But you’ll have both options depending on your personal preference.

Other considerations

Based on the benefits that we just discussed, I think we’ve established that HostGator Cloud is a top choice to consider if you want to use cloud hosting. But with that said, there are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind before you make that decision.

I briefly touched on this earlier when we discussed the cloud hosting plans, but the initial rates are just introductory offers. When your contract renews, you’ll be paying more.

Depending on your plan, you can expect prices to increase by roughly 80%.

While HostGator has its fair share of freebies, there are also some upsells along the way as well. Some of these are automatically checked off in your shopping cart, so make sure you review that page thoroughly before you commit to anything.

Conclusion

Overall, HostGator is a reputable name in the web hosting space. Their cloud hosting service is a great option for those of you who want to take advantage of cloud website hosting.

If you compare those plans to their standard shared hosting options, the cloud is the superior choice in my opinion.

However, if you don’t think cloud hosting is for you then you could always consider VPS or dedicated server hosting from HostGator as well.

For those of you who still aren’t convinced on the HostGator Cloud, you can check out my list of the best web hosting services for some other viable options.

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Anyone can create a website. Just because you own or manage a website, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a natural born designer.

But the design and layout of your website will have a huge impact on its success.

In fact, 48% of people say that the design of a website is the top factor they use when it comes to determining how credible a business is. 38% of people will stop using websites with unattractive layouts.

So if you want to create unique and beautiful landing pages without having to design them from scratch, you’re going to want to use pre-designed templates. WordPress is the best place to find these.

That’s because WordPress is the most popular CMS platform in the world, and has been for the past seven years in a row.

It controls nearly 60% of the entire CMS market across the globe. With more than 500 new sites launching on WordPress each day, it’s also the fastest growing CMS worldwide. 34% of the whole internet is run via WordPress.

So if you were on the fence about using WordPress to manage your site, hopefully now you’re convinced.

For those of you who are already using WordPress, you’re ahead of the game. Now it’s time to design the best landing pages for your WordPress site.

With so many options to choose from, I’ve narrowed down the top 11 WordPress landing page templates to make the decision much easier for you.

1. Landkit

Landkit is extremely easy to use, yet it’s designed for high performance. The hybrid composer page builder makes it possible for you to design your website without having to write any code.

It doesn’t use many server resources, which makes it perfect for websites with high volumes of traffic. You can use the Landkit template to functionally present information in a way that’s attractive to your website visitors.

Another reason why I recommend Landkit is because the landing page templates are so versatile. They can be used for pages related to things like:

  • Lead generation
  • Ebook downloads
  • Webinar registrations
  • Online services
  • Free trial page
  • Mobile app showcase
  • Contest details
  • Crowdfunding
  • New product launch
  • Coupons

The list goes on and on. Landkit makes it easy for you to change the colors to match your website color schemes. It’s also compatible with the WooCommerce plugin, for those of you who are using WordPress for your ecommerce site.

Landkit has more than 70 page elements for complete customization. You can choose from 12 header styles, and add use the built-in WordPress mega menu. This landing page theme can be purchased for $49.

2. Landing

The Landing template from Themify is another versatile option for you to consider. It comes with a drag and drop page builder, making it easier than ever before to customize all of the page elements to your liking.

Landing has more than 25 builder layouts for you to choose from, based on the type of page that you want to create.

There are options specifically created for products, portfolios, marketers, events, ebooks, weddings, agencies, restaurants, mobile apps, personal pages, and more.

I like this template because it has a responsive design on all devices, and it’s retina ready as well. Landing has cool header options such as:

  • Default header
  • Transparent with text
  • Transparent
  • Transparent with no logo
  • No header

These choices are ideal for those of you who want to draw more attention to background images and CTAs on your landing page. Another benefit of Landing is the fact that it has MailChimp integration, so you can use this landing page to collect email addresses.

The standard Landing WordPress template costs $59. Developers can buy it for $69.

3. BeOnePage Lite

BeOnePage Lite is meant to portray a futuristic and interactive design. This template can be customized to be colorful as well. It comes with a full-screen layout and slider that can be used to display things like images, videos, icons, and other graphics.

Another benefit of this template is that it can support several different media files. The parallax effect of BeOnePage Lite ensures that all scrolling will be very smooth on the user’s end.

It has a responsive design, with lots of customizable options for you to consider. BeOnePage Lite is a retina ready template that can be used as a landing page for virtually any website.

So if you’re looking for a modern WordPress template that’s free to install, BeOnePage Lite should be taken into consideration.

4. Foton

Foton was developed with software and mobile app promotion in mind. So for those of you who are creating a landing page to drive mobile app downloads or sell software, this template should be at the top of your list.

You can import this template into WordPress with just one click. To customize your page settings, you can take advantage of the drag and drop page builder, which is extremely easy for anyone to use.

No coding is required to use Foton. It has WooCommerce integration, slider revolution, and excellent support. It’s also fully responsive and easy to change color themes.

Foton comes with free plugins and is optimized for SEO purposes. It has shortcodes designed for portfolios as well, such as lists, projects, sliders, galleries, masonry, and hover layouts.

Transitions from page to page are very smooth. The font sets and icons are attractive and easy to change as well. Shortcodes for videos and call-to-actions are definitely ones that you’ll want to take advantage of.

The Foton WordPress landing page template is priced at $59.

5. Jevelin

Jevelin is another multi-purpose WordPress landing page template. Some of the top features of this theme include:

  • WooCommerce integration
  • Mobile ready
  • Contact Form 7
  • One click installation
  • SEO friendly
  • RTL optimized
  • 40+ customizable shortcodes

There is a great video installation guide, making it possible for anyone to install Jevelin, even if you don’t have experience adding landing page templates to your WordPress site. The fact that it has built-in capabilities with one of the best WordPress form plugins is another added bonus.

Jevelin has great reviews from website owners who are using this template on their sites.

The drag and drop builder paired with mega menus, custom widgets, social sharing functionality, and ecommerce support make it a popular option. This WordPress landing page template can be bought for just $59.

6. Launchkit

Launchkit is definitely a one size fits all landing page template, which I’m not saying in a negative way by any stretch. I like Launchkit because it can be used for virtually any landing page for any business type.

They offer versatile headers with all different types of media in mind. You can customize headers, CTAs, and forms in a way that positions them for high conversions.

Launchkit has simple colors, so your website always looks good, regardless of the screen size or type that it’s being viewed on.

Top features of Launchkit include:

  • Three header layouts
  • Seven footer layouts
  • Custom logos
  • One click data installer
  • Multilingual support
  • Gravity Forms
  • Contact Form 7

This template comes with more than 600 Google Fonts as well. With that in mind, you should check out my guide on the best Google Fonts that go together on your website.

For the reasonable price of $59, Launchkit is definitely one of the best landing page templates you can find for your WordPress site.

7. The Gem

If you’re looking for a multi-purpose landing page that is optimized for high performance, look no further than The Gem. This template offers a creative design that’s modern and suitable for all different types of websites.

There are more than 70 built-in concepts. So you can find a landing page that fits your needs.

  • Agencies
  • Business and finance
  • Ecommerce shops
  • Portfolios
  • Blogs
  • Mobile apps
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Real estate
  • Restaurants
  • Gyms
  • Beauty salons
  • Law firms
  • Hotels
  • Nonprofit organizations

These are just some of the many options that showcase the versatility of this WordPress landing page template. It’s fully responsive and looks great on both desktop devices and mobile screens.

The Gem is compatible with WooCommerce, making it a top choice for those of you who have an ecommerce shop.

With the visual composer, you can easily change elements on your landing pages with the drag and drop builder. The template is compatible with plugins and also comes with premium sliders.

You can buy this landing page template for $59.

8. Kallyas

More than 35,000 websites are using Kallyas for landing page templates. They have more than 65 live demos, with new ones coming out each month.

I always like it when landing page templates offer lots of live demos because it makes it easier to give you inspiration for designing your own website. Top benefits of Kallyas include:

  • Fast loading times
  • Quick setup
  • Video tutorials
  • Written tutorials
  • Reliable customer support
  • Visual page builder
  • Free updates for life

The one-click installation makes it easy for you to start editing your website in minutes. They have demos for things like weddings, makeup artists, bloggers, kids websites, membership sites, news, medical, sports, and dozens more.

Kallyas has more than 100 pre-built elements into the template. This gives you seemingly unlimited options when it comes to customizing your landing pages. Kallyas is priced at $69.

9. Softbox

Softbox is perfect for those of you who want a clean and professional design for landing pages on your website. It’s easy to choose your layout and customize the elements with some of their pre-built options.

It works on all major web browsers, screens, and devices. Softbox is retina ready and fully responsive. They have templates designed specifically for home pages, blogs, and interior landing pages as well.

In a word, Softbox can be described as simple. But when it comes to your website, simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Compared to some of the other WordPress landing pages on our list, Softbox is offered at a lower price point. This template can be yours for just $39.

10. Fusion

The Fusion WordPress template is designed with mobile app landing pages and portfolio landing pages in mind. So if you’re looking to showcase one or both of these things on your website, you should take a closer look at this option.

It’s an ideal solution for agencies and developers. The pages can be set up so that creatives can showcase their products. This holds true for both firms or individuals as well.

The typography is super clean. All of the design elements and whitespace is managed perfectly with this template, so the eyes of your website visitors are always drawn to the right spot on the page.

Fusion has a simple shortcode builder and easy customization. Everything integrates seamlessly into WordPress for you to manage.

This template has more than 1,500 retina icons, a revolution slider, and the ability to create a gallery with captions. It comes with over 500 Google Fonts, Contact Form 7, and an Ajax loading gallery as well.

Fusion costs $49 to install.

11. Leadinjection

Last, but certainly not least, on our list is Leadinjection. As the name implies, this template is designed especially for generating leads.

They have pre-built layouts for things like:

  • Online courses
  • Mobile apps
  • eBooks
  • Services
  • Medical websites
  • Insurance companies
  • Landscaping businesses
  • Diets and health
  • Cryptocurrencies

As you can see, these lead generation templates are extremely versatile and can fit the needs of nearly any website.

The template comes with a Lead Modal plugin, that’s basically a popup on your site that can be used to generate leads. This can be based on timing, exit intent, or other trigger options.

Leadinjection has all different types of opt-in forms for your landing pages as well. You can fully customize your CTA, and even add a click to call button for your mobile site. If this sounds like the landing page template that you want, it can be purchased for $39.

Conclusion

If you need help designing a landing page for your WordPress website, I’m confident that you can find what you’re looking for somewhere in these options that I’ve listed above.

I tried to include something for everyone on here. Some of these templates are made for multiple purposes, while others are made specifically for things like mobile apps, ecommerce, or lead generation.

Price is another factor that you can take into consideration when making this decision. While there are some free WordPress landing page templates, the rest tend to be priced between the $39 and $69 range.

So keep this list in mind when you’re on the search for the perfect WordPress landing page template.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

There are nearly 1.7 billion websites worldwide. This number continues to grow each day.

What do all of these sites have in common? In one way or another, they all use some form of HTML. That’s why learning basic HTML is such a useful skill.

Here’s the thing. You can definitely build a website without having to write a line of code. But with that said, once your site is live you should still know how to read and some HTML on your own.

So whether you’re creating a new website, have an existing website, or you just want to learn more about coding, this is guide will serve as the perfect introduction to HTML for you.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is HTML?

This acronym stands for Hypertext Markup Language. Basically, it’s the standard format used to create web pages, web applications, and documents. This computer language is a series of code that is typically written in a text file and then saved as HTML. When viewed on a web browser, this code translates to a properly formatted blend of text and other media.

HTML is behind every web page you see online, including this page that you’re reading right now.

Understanding hypertext and markup language

As I’ve already mentioned, HTML stands for hypertext markup language. But those words don’t mean much to most people, so I want to break them down even further so you can fully understand the definition.

The word hypertext dates back more than 50 years. It was invented to describe links in a document that make it possible for a viewer to jump to another place in the document or to a completely new document. This is something that we see and use every day in the modern Internet.

Here’s a visual representation of what hypertext looks like.

I’m sure you’re familiar with hyperlinks, which is a form of hypertext.

As you browse online, you’ll see either http:// or https:// before every web page in your web browser. This stands for hypertext transfer protocol.

Markup language refers to how documents and web pages are displayed. You see words that are bold, italic, or larger on a page. But behind the scenes, the markup language is the reason why certain components appear differently on a page.

Markups are characterized by tags and attributes. Most of the time these tags come in pairs. There are start tags and end tags, which are also known as opening tags and closing tags.

When to use HTML

HTML is the default language for all websites on the Internet. But it’s also used for various types of documents, such as ebooks.

When an HTML document gets rendered by a web browser, all of the markup language and tags are hidden. The display automatically gets changed to display a reader-friendly version of the document (what you’re seeing right now).

Do you need to learn HTML to create a website?

The short answer is no. Unless you’re planning to build pages from scratch and pursue web development, you won’t necessarily need to know every single component of HTML.

You can probably get away without knowing HTML if you’re using a CMS, website builder, or blogging platform. For example, if you’re using WordPress as your blogging CMS, the visual editor automatically translates your text to HTML.

Working in the visual editor will display content similar to a standard email message or Microsoft Word document.

With that said, there are times when visual editors don’t always work the way you want to. You might find yourself in a situation where you want to format something a certain way and it’s not getting displayed properly.

Furthermore, your HTML also needs to be optimized for non-human readers. Search engine bots are crawling your website for indexing purposes. The way that your HTML gets read will have an impact on your SEO.

Website accessibility also needs to be taken into consideration. Computers can translate web pages into sound for people with disabilities. They rely on the structure and quality of HTML for this.

While the platforms on the market today make it possible to operate a website without knowing HTML, it’s still in your best interest to learn the basics.

Choosing your HTML editor

For those of you who are planning to create web pages using HTML, you’ll need to use an HTML editor.

These editors are the best way to organize your code and keep everything clean. Editors are great because they recognize whenever a new tag is opened. These tags are automatically closed by the software, ensuring that your code doesn’t have bugs. This also limits the number of typing and keystrokes you have to make.

The best HTML editors let you preview your HTML to see how the content will look from a web browser. There are tons of options online. But I’ve narrowed down a handful of the top HTML editors for you to consider.

You can also practice HTML with this free tool from W3Schools. That’s what I’m going to use to show you examples of HTML as we continue.

HTML basics

Before you start writing HTML, you need to understand the three main components.

  • Tags
  • Attributes
  • Elements

These can be described as the building blocks or foundation of HTML. Once you learn what these are and how they work, it will be easier for you to move forward. I’ll go into greater detail on each of these below.

Tags

In short, tags are used to distinguish HTML code from normal text. The way your document gets displayed will be based on the tag instructions.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to make something bold.

The tag for bold is <b>, which is pictured above. This compares to the text above it, which is <p>, or a standard paragraph text.

Once the code is rendered, it’s displayed how we would normally see it on a web page, as you can see from the right side of the screenshot above.

Now let’s say you wanted to make something italicized. The HTML tag would look like this:

Pretty straightforward, right?

All I’m doing is using the tags to change the way the text appears when it’s on a web page.

Take a look at those tags closely. Do you notice a difference between the opening tag and closing tag? The closing tags have a slash, indicating that the italics, bold, or whatever other tag you’re using stops here.

If that example above didn’t have a slash in the closing tag, anything written after it would continue to be italicized.

Hyperlinks are also created with tags. Here’s what the HTML tag would look like if I wanted to hyperlink to the Quick Sprout homepage.

This tag is a little bit more in-depth than the bold and italics examples. But the same concept still applies.

There is an opening tag and closing tag with text in between. The way these tags are written determines what the result will look like on the web page.

Every web page starts with a <!DOCTYPE html>. Then the first line of the file says <html> as well. You can see this on the three examples that I showed you above. This tells browsers how to read the code.

Elements

An HTML element consists of the opening tag, closing tag, and the content in between the two.

So when we were going through different examples of tags, each example was a new element. For example, let’s take a look at some potential lines of HTML.

When you look on the right side of the screen at the page version of this code, you see four total sentences and two paragraphs.

Now, look at the HTML code on the left side of this split screen. You can see how the three different elements are identified.

Elements can be simple, such as the bold example above, or they can be a bit more complex.

The document above starts with an open <body> tag, and also ends with a closed </body> tag. So everything within those two tags can also be considered one element. But within that entire body, there could be dozens, hundreds, or thousands of additional elements, depending on how long and complex your content is.

Attributes

For the most part, tags are used to define how content is displayed in HTML. But with that said, there are times when additional information within an element needs to be added.

In these instances, you would use an attribute to define a specific characteristic of the element in question. Attributes consist of two things:

  • Name
  • Value

They are placed inside the start tag of an element. Here’s an example to show you what I mean.

The attribute used here is align=”center” and it falls within the <p> opening tag. It means that whatever text comes before the closing </p> tag will have a specific characteristic defined by the attribution.

In this case, the attribute said to center the text.

We saw another example of this earlier when I created a hyperlink for the Quick Sprout home page.

Beginner HTML cheat sheet

There are thousands of different ways you can write content in HTML. But if you’re just starting out with, there’s no reason for you to learn all of them right away.

Instead, I’ll show you some basic HTML tags and explain what they’re used for. Then you can practice applying them in an HTML editor.

Heading tags

<head> … </head>

These tags are used to showcase specific information on pages such as title tags and meta tags. Proper use of heading tags can increase your search engine traffic.

Title tags

<title> … </title>

Your title will appear within the header of the page. It will give search engine crawlers more information about the primary content of a particular page.

Paragraph tags

<p> … </p>

You’ve seen these throughout the examples that I showed you above. They denote a new paragraph of text.

Hyperlinks

<a href=”link”> … </a>

This tag and attribute is used to display the anchor text for hyperlinks. The full link would be written in between the quotation marks.

Images

<img />

Image tags are used to present image files on the page.

Tables

<table> … </table>

This tag contains all of the information related to content in a table. It also identifies content as a table.

Footers

<footer> … </footer>

Anything in between these tags would be in the footer block of a page.

Conclusion

Every website uses HTML. So if you’re building a website or currently manage a website, it’s in your best interest to know what’s going on behind the scenes of your web pages.

I’m not suggesting that you should go out and start building pages from scratch without any experience as a developer. There’s really no reason for that.

But you should have a basic understanding of what HTML is, how it works, and where to edit it on your website.

Here’s what I suggest. Use one of the HTML editors that I showed you earlier to practice your basic coding skills. Then just go through and try to replicate some of the examples that I covered in this beginner guide.

That’s the best way to get your feet wet with HTML if you don’t have any experience with it.

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Quick Sprout by Quick Sprout Editorial - 5d ago

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, building a website takes lots of hard work. This is even more so the case for those of you who are creating an ecommerce site.

In addition to your website design, architecture, and all of the standard website elements, you also need to figure out how you’re going to accept payments online.

If you’ve never done this before and you’re just starting some preliminary research, there’s a good chance that you’ll come across two names; PayPal and Stripe. These are both industry leaders in the online payment processing industry.

Both platforms will essentially let your customers buy products or services from your ecommerce shop, but the way that these services are provided are different from platform to platform.

So what’s the difference between PayPal and Stripe? Is PayPal or Stripe better for accepting payments online? These are questions that I hear all of the time when I’m consulting with ecommerce companies.

Truthfully, you probably can’t go wrong with either one. But with that said, I want to give you as much information as possible about each platform so you can decide which one is right for your ecommerce business.

Basics of payment gateways

Before we continue, I want to make sure you understand exactly how PayPal and Stripe work. There are two terms you need to know:

  • Payment gateway
  • Payment service provider

Payment gateways give ecommerce sites the capability to accept payments online. These gateways are like a middleman between a business payment processor and credit card network. PayPal and Stripe both have payment gateways, which you’ll need if you’re planning to authorize online payments.

A payment service provider (or PSP for short) on the other hand is a bit more involved. PayPal and Stripe are both PSPs as well. They link businesses with merchant accounts by providing the technology required to process online payments, as well as other forms of payment.

PayPal and Stripe group all of their merchants into one account, as opposed to each business having a dedicated account.

Basically, both of these platforms have everything you need to authorize payments as an ecommerce website.

PayPal for ecommerce

Even if you have no prior experience with running an ecommerce website, PayPal is definitely a name that you’ve heard before.

The company has always been known for payment processing. They have the reputation for being a safe and secure way for PayPal users to buy from merchants using a PayPal balance as well as a debit or credit account linked to their PayPal profile.

But PayPal offers much more features and services to accommodate ecommerce shops. So the days of PayPal only being suitable for things like eBay or other P2P payment situations are long behind us. Now they have a variety of plans for launching a business, whether you want to sell online, in person, or both.

You’ll be able to accept payments from credit cards, debit cards, PayPal credits, PayPal accounts, and Venmo as well.

With PayPal, you can design your own shopping cart. They have customizable solutions that are fully scalable for growing businesses.

PayPal offers three main plans for you to choose from. I’ll cover each one in greater detail below.

PayPal Checkout

For those of you who already have an existing payment processor that you’re using to accept credit cards on your ecommerce site, PayPal Checkout might be a good option for you to consider.

Basically, you can just add the PayPal button to your current payments page with this supplemental plan. It’s easy to integrate with your existing ecommerce platform. Once the button is added, your customers will be able to use PayPal, PayPal credits, or Venmo to buy from your online store.

Conversion rates are up to 82% higher when PayPal Checkout is added to ecommerce sites. That’s because shoppers can complete the purchase in just a click or two, if they have PayPal on their phones or if they’re already logged into PayPal on their computers.

There is no setup fee or monthly fee for this plan. PayPal charges merchants 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction in the United States.

PayPal Payments Standard

The PayPal Payments Standard plan is made for merchants who don’t have an existing payment processor or want to switch providers.

In addition to the PayPal payment options, you’ll also be able to accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards. Adding the button to your website is as simple as copying and pasting some code. The checkout pages will be hosted by PayPal.

This plan will cost you 2.9% + $0.30 per US transaction. There are no monthly fees or setup fees for the Payments Standard plan.

PayPal Payments Pro

Payments Pro is the top-tier plan offered by PayPal. It allows you to create a fully customizable checkout experience on your ecommerce site.

Unlike the Payments Standard plan, website visitors won’t have to leave your site to complete the checkout process. It also has a mobile-optimized checkout process and easy shopping cart integration. Payments Pro gives you a virtual terminal, which makes it possible to accept payments over the phone as well.

With the added features, this plan costs $30 per month, plus the standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Stripe for ecommerce

Unlike PayPal, Stripe doesn’t have their services segmented into tiered plans. Stripe’s payment processing will be the same, regardless of what features you’re taking advantage of.

With that said, depending on which tools you want to use, it will cost more. But the nice part about this is that you’re only going to be charged for the features that you actually want, as opposed to paying for a plan that includes tools you don’t need.

You can easily add Stripe to your ecommerce site with just one simple integration.

Once that happens, the platform makes it easy for you to accept payments, process them, settle, and reconcile. You’ll be able to process credit cards and ACH transfers both online and via mobile app payments. In fact, big mobile app brands like Lyft are already using Stripe.

Stripe lets you build a checkout process from scratch, or select one of their pre-built templates.

The platform has features for invoicing and setting up recurring payments for subscriptions as well. Let’s take a look at some of those add-on features I was talking about earlier.

Connect

Stripe Connect is made so that marketplaces and platforms can accept money and pay it out to third parties. It supports ecommerce sites, crowdfunding, on-demand businesses, and travel or event platforms.

Take advantage of Stripe’s UI components that are pre-built, or use their tools to create and customize everything on your own.

Sigma

Sigma helps businesses analyze data from stripe using SQL. It can help improve the efficiency of business operations, finance departments, data teams, and product management.

It’s a great way for you to get to know your business better with data. Then you can make necessary adjustments based on your findings. Pricing for Stripe Sigma varies based on the volume of monthly charges.

Atlas

Stripe Atlas is made for those of you who are starting an online business from scratch. The startup toolkit guides you through the process of forming a company, establishing IP ownership, filling out the right documents, and getting a tax ID number from the IRS.

Atlas also sets you up with a new bank account and debit card for your business.

There is a $500 one-time fee for using this service. Services like bank account maintenance, tax filing, and registered agents are not included in the setup fee. These are all billed individually at an annual rate.

Radar

Radar is Stripe’s fraud detection, prevention, and management tool. It’s designed to analyze your data and stop potential fraud cases before they are processed.

They take data from your checkout flows, payments, and financial partners to determine irregularities. Stripe’s partnership with major credit card companies and banks make it possible for them to identify fraudulent charges before you need to make a dispute.

Issuing

Stripe Issuing is made for ecommerce businesses that want to create, distribute, and manage both physical and virtual cards for in-house purposes.

You can use these cards for things like employee expense accounts. It’s supported by Google Pay and Apple Pay as well. It’s also worth noting that Stripe Issuing is a beta program that’s only being offered in the United States.

Terminal

For years, Stripe was better known for its online payment processing. But now they offer Stripe Terminal, which is a POS system for in-person payments.

This is a great option for those of you who have physical store locations in addition to your ecommerce shop. You can get everything you need both online and in-store from the same provider.

PayPal and Stripe compared

As you can see from everything that we’ve covered so far, these two payment service providers are very different from each other. But with that said, they have some things in common as well.

Deciding between PayPal and Stripe will mostly come down to personal preference and exactly what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at some specific features to see how each platform stacks up against the other.

Price

The pricing for PayPal is very straightforward. Only the Payments Pro plan has a monthly fee, while all three plans charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Stripe also charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. But they do have custom pricing packages for things like volume discounts and multi-product discounts, which can be useful for those of you who want to take advantage of the products we looked at earlier.

According to research Value Penguin, Stripe is more expensive than PayPal.

It can be argued that Stripe has more to offer, which might justify that higher amount. But when you compare the cost per transaction rates head to head, both services are even.

Support

Both PayPal and Stripe offer excellent customer service and technical support options. They each have their own variation of a help center, with different tools, guides, FAQ, and resources needed to troubleshoot on your own.

You can also get help using:

  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Phone
  • Social media

Based on all of this, I don’t think that I can definitively say that one platform has better support than the other, so this category is a tie.

Ease of use

Stripe and PayPal are both easy to use. But with that said, Stripe is definitely more developer-friendly, meaning it could present more of a challenge to ecommerce store owners who don’t have that type of technical knowledge.

PayPal is as simple as copying and pasting some code to get set up, which is about as straightforward as it gets. So I’d say PayPal is better for beginners, while Stripe has more customizable options for developers.

Contracts

Both PayPal and Stripe offer pay as you go contracts. So you won’t get locked into anything long term and can cancel at any time. You also won’t be charged a cancellation fee by either service if you decide to do so.

This category is another tie.

Reputation

PayPal always had a reputation for its P2P payments through third-party platforms like eBay. Although now they’re taking aim at providing more services for ecommerce sites. Stripe has always been known for ecommerce solutions, but not offers POS solutions as well.

Both of these companies have the tools, services, and resources you need to run an ecommerce shop. They both have exceptional online reviews as well.

PayPal is the most popular digital wallet in the United States and is the most popular mobile payment method in North America. There are more than 277 million PayPal users worldwide.

Based on these numbers, I’d have to give the edge to PayPal in terms of reputation. But by no means am I saying that Stripe doesn’t have an excellent reputation as well.

Conclusion

If you have an ecommerce shop and you’re trying to figure out the best payment service provider, both PayPal and Stripe are top options to consider.

At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to personal preference. Based on the information I gave you above, you can decide which plan meets your needs the most.

I can’t definitively give an edge to one platform over the other. I’d strongly recommend both options.

For those of you who still aren’t sold on PayPal or Stripe, you can review my guide on the best payment methods for your ecommerce site to find some alternative solutions.

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