Top 7 Popular WordPress Plugins for Successful Blogging

The following article was written by Helen Miller. Helen Miller is a freelance author who is always inspired to write on web-design and web-development up-to-date subjects. Helen has a great interest in IT sphere and always has fresh ideas to share. She also cooperates with TemplateMonster.com. If you want to be aware of the latest tendencies in web-design follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

If you are reading this article, you might already have your own blog. In case you are only thinking of launching the one, you can browse WordPress blog themes developed by TemplateMonster and choose one that fits your style.

Running a blog is relatively simple, there are millions of the existing resources out there, but making your blog really popular is rather challenging.

blogging

We believe that the best way to run a successful blog is:

  • To write high quality posts that people like. Choose a niche you are interested/expert in and help people solve their problems.
  • To engage your audience on social media and respond to their queries.
  • To answer your audience questions in the comments section.
  • To connect with other bloggers, try guest posting.
  • To invest in your blog design like a good theme.
  • To grow your subscriber list by using social media.
  • To submit your blog to search engines, the likes of Google, Yahoo, Bing.

We can continue this list with many more items, but the topic of the blog post suggests that Top 7 Popular WordPress Plugins for Successful Blogging must follow. So, here they are, hope they will help.

P.S. Please check out this link that will be useful if you are serious about your decision to become a famous blogger. 10 Ways to Earn Money and Become Rich on the Internet – this is a free eBook highlighting the following aspects: The Launch of Your Own Online Business, Money Making Practices That Require Your Skills, Participation in Online Projects.

Yoast SEO

Yoast-SEO

WordPress is technically quite a good platform for SEO right out of the box. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve it further. This plugin is written from the ground up by Joost de Valk and his team at Yoast to improve your site’s SEO on all the required aspects. But that’s not all; while this Yoast SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, more on that below, it first and foremost helps you write better content. Yoast SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.

W3 Total Cache

W3-Total-Cache

W3 Total Cache improves the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance, reducing download time via the integrated features like content delivery network (CDN).

The only web host agnostic WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework recommended by countless web developers and web hosts. Trusted by numerous companies like: AT&T, stevesouders.com, mattcutts.com, mashable.com, smashingmagazine.com, makeuseof.com, kiss925.com, pearsonified.com, lockergnome.com, johnchow.com, ilovetypography.com, webdesignerdepot.com, css-tricks.com and tens of thousands of others.

Akismet

Akismet

Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against the global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.

Major features in Akismet include:

  • Automatically checks all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam.
  • Each comment has a status history, so you can easily see which comments were caught or cleared by Akismet and which were spammed or unspammed by a moderator.
  • URLs are shown in the comment body to reveal hidden or misleading links.
  • Moderators can see the number of approved comments for each user.
  • A discard feature that outright blocks the worst spam, saving you disk space and speeding up your site.

Jetpack by WordPress.com

JetPack

Jetpack keeps any WordPress site secure, helps to increase traffic, and engage your readers.

Traffic and SEO tools Jetpack includes: Site stats and analytics, Automatic sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, and WhatsApp, Related posts, Search engine optimization tools for Google, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.com

Stop worrying about data loss, downtime, and hacking. Jetpack provides: Brute force attack protection, Downtime and uptime monitoring, Secured logins and two-factor authentication.

Add rich, beautifully-presented media — no graphic design expertise necessary: A high-speed CDN for your images, Carousels, slideshows, and tiled galleries, Simple embeds from YouTube, Google Documents, Spotify and more, Sidebar customization including Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds, Extra sidebar widgets including blog stats, calendar, and author widgets.

Create a connection with your readers and keep them coming back to your site with: Email subscriptions, Comment login with Facebook, Twitter, and Google, Fully-customizable contact forms, Infinite scroll for your posts.

The plugin has an entire team of Happiness Engineers ready to help you. Ask your questions in the support forum, or contact them directly.

Fast Secure Contact Form

Fast Secure Contact Form

Easily create and add forms to WordPress. Fields are easy to add, remove, and re-order. The contact form will let the user send emails to a site’s admin, and also send a meeting request to talk over phone or video.

Features: easy form edit, multiple forms, confirmation emails, no templates to mess with, and an option to redirect visitors to any URL after the message is sent. Includes Google reCAPTCHA and Akismet support to block spammers. Spam is no longer a problem. You can add extra fields of any type: text, textarea, checkbox, checkbox-multiple, radio, select, select-multiple, attachment, date, time, hidden, password, and fieldset.

Google Analytics by Yoast

Google Analytics by Yoast

You shouldn’t hire a developer to add Google Analytics to your website with MonsterInsights, a complete Google Analytics for WordPress plugin that’s EASY and POWERFUL.

MonsterInsights allow you to connect your WordPress website with Google Analytics, so you can see how visitors find and use your website, so you can keep them coming back. Simply put, the plugin will show you the stats that matter.
With almost 15 million downloads, MonsterInsights is the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress.

At MonsterInsights, user experience is #1 priority. That’s why it was made to be extremely easy to connect and view your Google Analytics reports from inside your WordPress dashboard. Its tracking settings and workflows make MonsterInsights the most beginner friendly Google analytics plugin in the market.

Redirection

Redirection plugin

Redirection is a WordPress plugin to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This is particularly useful if you are migrating pages from an old website, or are changing the directory of your WordPress installation.

New features include: 404 error monitoring – captures a log of 404 errors and allows you to easily map these to 301 redirects, Custom ‘pass-through’ redirections allowing you to pass a URL through to another page, file, or website. Full logs for all redirected URLs, All URLs can be redirected, not just ones that don’t exist, Redirection methods – redirect based upon login status, redirect to random pages, redirect based upon the referrer.

Existing features include: Automatically add a 301 redirection when a post’s URL changes, Manually add 301, 302, and 307 redirections for a WordPress post, or for any other file, Full regular expression support, Apache .htaccess is not required – works entirely inside WordPress, Redirect index.php, index.html, and index.htm access, Redirection statistics telling you how many times a redirection has occurred, when it last happened, who tried to do it, and where they found your URL, Fully localized.

Do you consider this brief compilation of Top 7 Popular WordPress Plugins for Successful Blogging useful? Are you going to install any of them on your blog? Did you already try out any of the above plugins. Please drop us a line at the comments section. Your feedback is highly appreciated.

Skills Web Professionals must know in 2017

This article was written by Abid Ullah. He is Director of Search at Marketing Wind. He is an experienced SEO Outreach expert and advertisement specialist. His interests lie in Digital Marketing Management. He is an internet marketing enthusiast and his specialty is in search engine optimization outreach and content marketing.

Photo of Abid Ullah

At Miami SEO (part of Marketing Wind), we work with web professionals regularly Based on our analyses, we have created a list of 5 indispensable skills web professionals must know in 2017. If you are an aspiring web-professional, then look below and invest in learning these skills in 2017.

Create a Great User Experience

As a web professional, you already know that user experience is essential. This means when creating a site, you need to build an excellent interface and great user experience. Avoid user experience errors. Review your efforts with those who will be using the site and confirm the site is not only usable, but is easy to navigate and understand. Have you ever visited the Amazon online store? It is among the best online retailer stores on the Internet. They have used a variety of features and user interface elements that make purchasing and browsing seamless. As it is an e-commerce store, they have made sure the purchasing and delivery system is spot on. Just with an input of delivery information, you can confirm your order and get done with the process that easily. Try to offer your consumers a similar fluid experience so that they stay on your website for a longer time.

Security

This is a must in 2017, many companies are processing payments from their sites. You must protect the site from hacking, SQL injection, and user requests that could be considered as spam. If you are uncertain whether your site is secure, hire a qualified professional to review your site and identify/ resolve any vulnerabilities.

HTML

It has always been important to learn Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). In 2017 web professionals can also use editors that do not require detailed HTML knowledge.  Nevertheless, if you want to be a professional web designer and have professional web design skills for long-term and an in-depth understanding of your work then you must learn HTML and understand semantic markup. HTML is source to streamline your lifestyle and business line. Not learning how to use HTML will leave you behind in the web designing and development process. You’ll miss out on easy-to-use visual HTML building tools, latest updates and on ways to enhance your blogging techniques. HTML helps a lot when it comes to formatting your blogs, pasting content from word to CMS, while making a guest post and during content formatting. As the content is worldwide known as the king of web and marketing, who wouldn’t want to learn a coding program that helps in putting the content into limelight?

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is not just about content. It depends greatly on the functionality of a website. As a web designer you should know Search Engine Optimization so that you can build a SEO friendly website which has the chances of getting ranked high in search engines. If you are a beginner, you can search about SEO. The web provides a series of SEO learning tutorials and videos. The official Google SEO tutorial is a good place to start. Moreover, the marketing team of the company can carry out conferences/ webinars with the leading SEO experts who can guide through how to do search engine optimization and how to make your website fully optimized for Google and other search engines. Another way to learn more about SEO is to experiment and see for yourself the results that different practices produce.

CSS

Basic CSS knowledge is essential; it is important to make sure that you know how to create CSS files from scratch. The CSS (cascading style sheets) is actually a styling sheet language. Through this you can give an effective style to your website along with the use of HTML. It makes the web page more appealing and easily manageable. Thus, learning CSS is a sure shot success key and web professionals must spend their time on it.Learn the new features of CSS-3 as well.

Web Server

It is preferable to have the knowledge of the web server you’re launching your website at, to name your website properly and to understand secure FTP. This knowledge about the web server helps you find out how well it works with the operating systems, how capable it is to handle the server-side programming and about its security characteristics. Moreover, the knowledge gives you an insight of the search engine and site building tools that it comes with.

Web development is a broad category which also includes web-design and web-optimization, the above skills are taken from all aspects, but in some cases, you might only be focusing on web-designing which will require different skills than web-development. So, pick your category and decide whether you want to work on one aspect or all aspects and start learning.

Internet Privacy Rules: Why should Web professionals care?

The U.S. Congress repealed the FCC broadband/ Internet privacy rules established in the latter days of the Obama administration in late March, 2017. President Trump signed this repeal on April 3. Untouched, those rules would have gone into effect later this year. Those rules were an outgrowth of the Federal Communication Commission’s battle to protect net neutrality. You may be asking yourself – why does this matter, what will this change, and how will you and your clients be affected.

What you need to know:

  • Although most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have said nothing has changed, they are free to change their policies at any time going forward. Consumers will not have a choice (to opt-in or opt-out).
  • It will be much easier for ISPs (think AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and similar corporations) to track your specific browsing history across all devices.
  • If an ISP decides to intercept search requests, they could send results from their own marketing databases (instead of the results someone might expect).
  • There is also a risk that such “injection” could be hijacked or compromised by malicious individuals. These large databases of consumer information would also be prime targets for hackers.
  • Previously, if you didn’t like the amount of data collected by a corporation (for example, Facebook), you could simply choose not to use their services and select some competitor. That will no longer be an option since your ISP will be the one tracking all your access (potentially).
  • There will not be any filters regarding your browsing history and how it can be used. You will have very limited control over what is shared with others (or sold).

Why this is important

In a nutshell, this is game changer (particularly in the U.S.). Up to this point, individual sites collected data (and used it to target ads). As a general rule, if a service appears free on the WWW, you are likely paying for it with your personal data. Facebook would be an excellent example of this. Using this company an example, Facebook wants you to visit Facebook so they can mine the data you share and can then sell targeted ads. These sorts of ads are likely to generate more revenue for the advertiser. That being said, each company wants to keep the data they collect about you to themselves. Frankly, information equals power these days. The more a company knows about you (and your browsing habits and searches), the better they can target ads.

That being said, there are limits. Most of us have smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices. Trying to identify the common visitor across all these devices is a lot easier when the Internet Service Provider can be involved. One can no longer opt out by choosing an alternative company (perhaps DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Bing for Internet searches, for example).

Those of us who have been alive much longer than the WWW understand that limits were set in place for other technologies. For example, phone companies could not collect specific information that you were calling a physician or attorney and then target you with ads for similar types of services. The previous rules likened much Internet traffic to be similar to telephone traffic (and under the same guidelines).

Who voted for and against

Here are the details (who voted for and against this bill in the House of Representatives). For the senate version, votes followed party lines. We also found this overview of how we got to this point informative.

You will have less control of how your online history is used

With the elimination of these Internet Privacy rules, more of your online history will be available to more companies and you will have less control over how it is used. In addition to now being able to collect vast amounts of information from their customers, each company can use said information to provide targeted ads or can sell the collected data to others. Each company is free to change their policies at any time. That is why this is such an important change.

We found this NPR article to provide a solid overview of the situation and what your options are.

Help your customers understand these changes

Undoubtedly, some of your customers will have questions. More sophisticated customers will have detailed questions. At a minimum, we recommend mentioning these main points:

  • Internet Service Providers are able to change their policies at will. There is now much less oversight by the FCC and FTC.
  • It is likely there will be more tracking/ recording of your browser history and this data may be used for more targeted advertising. Much more data is likely to be collected (and shared or sold). As a consumer, you will likely not have the option to either opt-in or opt-out of such data collection. Many do not have the luxury of being able to easily select another ISP.
  • For additional information, you may wish to review this FAQ regarding what happens as these rules are cancelled.

For those who wish to pursue more privacy, here are some of the things you can do today:

  • Download and use the HTTPS everywhere extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera
  • Consider employing a tool like Privacy Badger to block spies and hidden trackers on sites you visit
  • Consider using a VPN
  • Consider using Tor as your browser
  • You might also want to introduce some Internet noise (a tool which loads random sites so your actual searches are obscured by large amounts of nonsense searches). This latter tool certainly will not protect your privacy; it will only generate additional “noise” which will obscure your actual search interests among a larger amount of random searches.

The bottom line is that there will be more data available for marketers. While this may be a plus for Web marketers, this is a giant step backwards for privacy advocates.

This has the potential to allow much more focused ads as big data and predictive analytics are brought to bear on an ever increasing amount of consumer information. If one is in marketing, they need to remain aware of consumer concerns.

Practicing web professionals should leverage this change as an opportunity to inform and educate their customers/ clients regarding what may be collected and how best to deal with this new reality (perhaps recommending using a VPN and plugins like those mentioned above).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently posted a list of ISPs that respect your privacy. They also provided a solid overview of how to protect your privacy from your ISP. This article also included a number of questions to ask about any VPN (before you purchase). Examples include:

  • How long has the VPN been in business?
  • Does the VPN log your traffic?
  • Is the traffic encrypted? Is there a single shared password for all encryption?
  • Would the VPN leak your DNS queries to your ISP?
  • Does the VPN support IPv6?

We anticipate that this is only the beginning of the discussion regarding increased awareness of privacy issues on the part of consumers and professionals alike.

Best always,

Mark DuBois

Community Evangelist and Executive Director

HTML5 canvas cheatsheet

Our colleague, Colin Cieloha, American author and content marketer at Skilled.co recommended the HTML5 canvas cheatsheet developed by his company (and embedded below).

Colin Cieloha

Colin writes about everything that will draw his attention with a focus on the mobile and e-commerce space.  When he is not writing he is spending his time traveling the globe and snowboarding.  You can follow him on his Twitter at @ColinCieloha or on Linkedin. We asked Colin a number of questions about this resource. Details are below.

Become a Canvas Master with this HTML5 Cheat Sheet by Skilled.co

Skilled.co has released a new cheat sheet that enables new and experienced web developers alike to create original illustrations and animations. With the use of HTML5 advanced technology, coding enthusiasts of all experience levels are able to read and use this cheat sheet to create impressive designs. Canvas can also respond to all the usual JavaScript events, like clicking and keyboard commands and button clicks, so it’s even easier to use. Here we will explore the benefits of using the Canvas cheat sheet and how Canvas holds up against traditional Camel Case. It’s sure to save you time, effort, and headache.

Why is it important for web professionals to know/ use this cheat sheet?

It saves time! Instead of having to remember all the coding or search for individual codes, an HTML cheat sheet provides all of the most used codes in one easy place. There’s a lot to be said for having all of that extra effort minimized, the common codes are just a click of your bookmarks away. This is convenient for those freelance designers that are in a time crunch as this allows them to complete their work faster and reach deadlines.

Why should they be focused on canvas now?

Canvas technology is amazing because it’s super easy to use. For example, Canvas can draw colorful text to help your message pop on the screen – and you can even animate it! HTML <canvas> objects can move, too, whether it’s just a few bouncing balls or an intricate animation that tells a story. For designers interested in gaming software, the <canvas> element is a brilliant choice for building characters, worlds, and then setting it all into motion.

Canvas isn’t magic (close, but not magic). You’ll still need a basic understanding of HTML and JavaScript to make these codes work for you the way you want, but the <canvas> element is simple and easy to use. The HTML <canvas> element’s purpose is to create graphics, according to lines of script, but it’s only a container. The <canvas> element draws paths, boxes, circles, text, and helps you to create images. It also provides the user with graphs and charts to order their graphic data designs. To draw graphics, Canvas uses a JavaScript context object, which makes it easy and fast to create graphics in your design.

The <canvas> element runs into some trouble with older browsers, however, and may not be supported. Canvas is, however, supported in all recent versions of all major browsers, so as long as your browser is updated, Canvas should work just fine. Canvas’s default size is three hundred pixels by one hundred and fifty pixels, width and height respectively, but is customizable. You can adjust the size of the canvas by using the HTML height and width property in the program.

With Canvas, function names are short and easy to recognize, unlike functions written in CamelCase. Identifiers in CamelCase often require lowercase where it would be more convenient to use all caps. For example, acronyms. It’s much easier to identify a function, if acronyms like HTML or SQL are written in full capitalization, but CamelCase sometimes negates this convenience.

This causes a serious headache for designers when two acronyms need to be side by side in a line of script: “parse DBM XML” would become “parseDBMXML” or when the function starts with an acronym, like “SQL server” (which the designer would be forced to convert to “sQLServer”). Even if a programmer considers acronyms lower case words and writes “oldHtmlFile”, “parseDbmXml” or “sqlServer”, it causes a mess because it makes it difficult to discern if it an acronym or not. Best case scenario, the designer wastes time.  The worst case scenario, they make a mistake and now must comb through complicated lines of script to amend the problem.

Conclusion

Hopefully this sheds light on the massive benefits of the Canvas cheat sheet. Using this cheat sheet will save you time and help you to become a more efficient programmer, web designer, or even help you gain more solid experience as a beginner in this field. I encourage you to go check out Skilled.co‘s Canvas cheat sheet below and begin to create using their helpful, easy to read codes. Have fun creating and I hope this saves you more time!

5 tips for web designers to improve their skills

This article was written by Junaid Ali Qureshi. He is a digital marketing specialist who has helped several businesses gain traffic, outperform competition and generate profitable leads. His current ventures include Elephantation, eLabelz, Smart Leads.ae, Progos Tech and eCig.

junaid-ali-qureshi

Learning web design techniques and tricks is easy. No matter whether you have the right skills or not in the start; by repeating and learning from the mistakes and polishing the weak areas you can easily step up a notch and fall among the highly experienced and professional web designers. The problem that many web design experts encounter here is the challenge to keep up their good reputation and to improve the skills they already have.

Do you have a lot of projects lined up? Every professional web designer does. The real question is whether you have different, innovative ideas for each of them or not? Wouldn’t using the same web design techniques on each project make your style monotonous? This is something every design expert worries about. To help you get through this transitional phase with ease; we have compiled 5 essential tips that help to rejuvenate the web design skills of every expert.

There are several tutorials and videos through which you can learn how to advance your web design skills level; but, every designer needs some instant tips as well. These tips help them achieve goals earlier than expected. One thing is assured; these tips are no shortcut to success but merely the best techniques used by experts worldwide.

The 5 tips that will help you improve your skills are as follows:

  1. Always sketch a rough design of your web before working with the tools. Have you ever seen an architect work? He lays down all the plans on a sheet of paper, reviews them, goes through them again and again, gets the approval of the client and only then proceeds to the next step. The number one tip here to improve your skills is to adopt the routine of making a rough draft of the website you are planning to develop. Once you have made a rough sketch, you can make changes if needed or move towards developing the final website. If you aren’t comfortable with the pen and paper idea, you can use various prototype building websites and apps to get a view of the rough version of the website.
  2. Stay in touch with the latest style guides. Make sure you have your own style guide or you follow a well-written style guide to design the web page. This will help you build the website in a uniform fashion. Keeping in view the template of the website and the effect you would like to add or not; you can either improvise the pre-written style guide or make a new one. Try to make an exquisite design that differentiates you from the other competitors in the market. Large font size is in fashion these days. Try to use it in your template and make some space for typography as well.
  3. Upgrade, expand and re-evaluate your web tools. Web design is not simple at all. You have to use several tools to achieve the effect you are trying to present. It requires using old as well as new tools to bring an innovative idea into a real form. Tip number three states that you need to upgrade your web tools. Make sure you are using the latest version of the web tool and get its updates on regular basis. Add more tools to your toolkit and experiment with new ideas. Only then you can bring versatility to your work. Our company offers new tools and features every now and then. It is the job of the web designer to incorporate them properly into the website using their skills to gain maximum benefits.
  4. Keep your SEO knowledge up-to-date. We have seen that this tip has been repeatedly offered to the readers on different platforms but the truth is, no matter how much we try to escape it, SEO rules and regulations are the standards that every website has to meet. Thus, strengthen your grip over the SEO guidelines. Use SEO optimized keywords, headings style, high-quality content and other linking features to stay in the game. Practice merging SEO techniques in your work project to revamp your skills to a better scale.
  5. Pick catchy and original images for your web page. A web page is defined by the images, content and its style. You need to make it perfect to get a better ranking and to impress the clients. Many web designers use free Google images that are available (but that’s old news now). You need to go for the options other than this to improve your skills.  Try investing in premium stock images or create an image from scratch appropriate tools. You can also capture high-quality photographs and combine them with your own sketches as well.

As web designers, we are already familiar with all these tips. However, it is always good to review these basics periodically. Make sure you follow them and you’ll see positive results within no time!

Interview with David Braun from TemplateMonster

We had the opportunity to communicate with David Braun (co-founder and CEO of TemplateMonster.com) recently. TemplateMonster is a marketplace featuring 46,000 templates for many different types of websites.

Why should Web Professionals care about this?

  • TemplateMonster can save you time
  • Templates exist for major platforms (WordPress, Drupal, and much more)
  • This means you can speed your workflow

David Braun is a co-founder and CEO of TemplateMonster.com. This company is the oldest and the most experienced on the market in this area. We invited David to talk and provided some questions for our discussion.

David Braun, co-founder and CEO of TemplateMonster.com

David Braun, co-founder and CEO of TemplateMonster.com

What is TemplateMonster.com from your point of view?

TemplateMonster has become a marketplace now. It features 46,000 pre-designed templates crafted for different types of sites, business niches, and engines including the most popular platforms: WordPress, WooCommerce, Joomla, Magento, Drupal, PrestaShop, and Moto CMS. Our aim is to meet the requirements of as many customers as possible. We offer plenty of cool stuff apart from the ready-made templates. For instance, landing pages, plugins, email templates and many other products. 100k people are visiting the site every day. A team of 427 geeks is working for TemplateMonster. Their joint efforts let TemplateMonster reach $15M in revenue.

Template Monster landing page

Why should web professionals care about companies like TemplateMonster?

Because it’s beneficial for them. Cooperating with TemplateMonster frees their time, speeds their workflow, and lets them earn much more money.

Today all business owners understand how important it is to promote their services/products online. But not every entrepreneur is ready to pay for custom design, hire a developer, and create their online presentation from scratch.

They want to get their website within a reasonable budget, they want it to be quality, to look good, work flawlessly, and don’t wait for ages before their project will go live.

Web design agencies can cater to all these needs if they use our templates.

Tell me about the history of the company and how it was launched.

TemplateMonster was founded in 2002. Can you imagine that: people around the globe used our products when you knew nothing about Facebook and YouTube. We watched the evolution of the web and were proud to contribute into it. Hundreds of thousands websites you see today were built on the basis of our templates.

How everything started… I had been working at a custom design studio then. We tried our best to deliver top-quality products, but, unfortunately, most of our potential customers considered our services too expensive for them.

One day, I saw a designer who used a ready-made template to simplify and speed up his job. That was the moment when an idea to launch TemplateMonster crossed my mind. Eventually, this idea started to turn into a successful business.

Our company has held a leading position in the market for almost 15 years. Of course not all days were fine for us. We survived the rainy ones when something went totally wrong with our products. We got negative testimonials. And the bitter truth is that some of them were true. However, most of them referred to our outdated templates. What did we do? We just removed them from our marketplace.

They say “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. And even negative feedback can be useful. We thoroughly analyzed it and took the right turn. We got deeper understanding of what our customers need, and gave it to them.

Example of a templateMonster template

Thanks for sharing your history. Why should one rely on a template?

Both entrepreneurs with little to no development skills and professional developers use our templates. All our customers get their benefits from our products.

The best thing about templates is that TemplateMonster’s customers see the final result, a ready-made product before paying any money for it.

Templates save time, money, efforts, nerves, whatever, and guarantee satisfaction with the future website.

What are the advantages of this approach instead of coding all by hand (or using Foundation or Bootstrap or other frameworks)?

Entrepreneurs get independence from designers, coders, and other professionals who sometimes overrate their work and don’t meet the deadlines. They don’t need to spend hours and hours searching for a responsible, skillful freelancers who may design something that they may be disappointed with in the end. As I have mentioned above, at TemplateMonster you see the final result at once. In other words, you see a ready-made product you are paying for. All you need to do is just replace the default content with your own.

Suppose you are just getting started and have no idea how to install the template, add your logo and other content, change colors, etc. You think only about the ways to generate more revenues and have no desire to mess with all those things.

So, you want to skip installation, customization or, say, integration with Google Analytics. Then, contact our Service Center. Our trained professionals will take care of everything and deliver you a ready-to-use site within 24 hours. Some tasks are completed even faster, i.e.: we install the template and plugins within 3 hours. There’s no issue members of our Service Center can’t cope with.

As to the coders knowing Bootstrap and other frameworks. Developers who are able to build sites themselves pay money for our products because it is advantageous for them.

With the help of our templates, developers considerably speed up their working process. They deliver more projects and earn more money respectively. We have a vast choice of templates in stock, which means that anyone can find the theme that meets the requirements even of the most picky customers. Creating something from scratch simply makes no sense if our marketplace offers so many ready-made designs. It’s like reinventing the wheel. Smart developers prefer to customize something here and there and deliver the website to the customer as quickly as possible.

I would like to tell you about the project we have launched not so long ago. It gives developers from all over the world an opportunity to get an official certificate from TemplateMonster that proves their skills. They just need to complete a course and then pass a final test (or pass the quiz at once) at our Certification Center. Having a certificate from a globally recognized web design company is a great way to improve your online image and look more credible for the customers.

Besides, having the certificate from TemplateMonster lets you get into Web Studios Catalogue, which gives a heap of additional opportunities.

You raise good points about certification. That is why Web Professionals has been certifying web designers, developers and more for so nearly 20 years.

What are the disadvantages of using a template?

Ok, you caught me;). It’s a tricky question, but I will answer it.

There is an opinion that using a template you fall under the risk to be unoriginal. If you’re going to use a template, then the chances are that you’re not alone, that’s the truth. But what is your chance of seeing a similar website on the Internet among millions of websites if you have bought your template from a marketplace like TemplateMonster with its terrific choice especially after customization? To my mind they are next to nothing. However, if it is crucial for you to be the one and only owner of the design, you can buy it out.

The quality of available templates varies, but in some cases, you might find the choices are rather basic. Some templates rely on you to fill in most of the gaps, and may have a poor set of graphics or visual elements. Frankly speaking I don’t see a big problem here as filling the template with your own content makes your website unique.

Using a template is unchallenging. Relying on templates to put together your projects, means you don’t get the benefits of learning the ins and outs of the software you’re using. But don’t you think that this is the essence of the template – to speed up and simplify the process of website launch? Not all entrepreneurs want to learn to code, design, and so on. They just want to get their benefit from the brand new website asap. A template gives them this possibility. In case they want to study everything that was left behind the scenes, they can sign up for one of our free educational projects (like “Your web studio in 61 days marathon“) and make up leeway.

61 days marathon

Templates are naturally designed to help you get the results as quickly and easily as possible, but in many cases the customization options can be limited, restricting what you can do with your files. That’s why it is important to read the template’s documentation carefully before the purchase. Don’t want to read? Watch the short video from our playlist on YouTube. Don’t want to watch the video or can’t find the relevant one, ask the support manager. They are always available to answer all your questions and help to choose the right template for your purchase. Don’t worry, the guys will work until you are 100% satisfied.

What other products/services do you offer?

2016 became the year when our team focused on developing flagship templates. They are much more multi-faceted compared to our regular products. Let me explain the things with using flagships on the example of WordPress templates. Of course I can’t help mentioning the recent release of Monstroid2 – Multipurpose WordPress Theme. It’s not an ordinary template, it’s a whole toolkit to build an online magazine, business site, personal portfolio, web store, whatever. You can create a complex portal combining several types of sites into one as well. Supposing you want the impossible from a single template: to present your company, plus share some interesting info with clients and sell products at the same time. It’s hard to believe, but using Monstroid2, you can build a business site, add blog and store functionalities to it. Monstroid2 is a one size fits all solution for all the needs you may have.

Here’s how it was. At first we created a flagship for WordPress because it’s the most popular CMS in the world. But then we decided to develop flagships for all popular engines: Joomla, OpenCart, PrestaShop, etc.

But that’s not all, we didn’t forget about the guys who don’t use any CMS at all. You can find new flagships among HTML5 templates. You already know that it’s one of our goals to meet the needs of everyone who comes to TemplateMonster marketplace.

Please note that we don’t charge more for flagship products. You can get any of them for the price of a regular template. Considering professional 24/7 support that we provide for a lifetime, our flagships are the best deals you can find on the market today.

It also should be mentioned that the users can figure out everything by themselves, without professional help. Every template comes well documented. The instructions guide the users through all ins and outs of using it. There are also numerous detailed tutorials at our Help Center and Startup Hub for those of you who are just at the start or want to learn how to handle their template by themselves. What’s more, we run a blog to share a lot of educational content with our audience, particularly, free eBooks, webinars, tips, tools to become more productive, and much more. At TemplateMonster, you won’t just learn how to build beautiful and functional websites lightning-fast, you’ll learn to enjoy the job.

What differentiates you from the competition?

The cost and value of our products comes to my mind first. Our prices are not higher than the ones of our competitors. If you want to save, just search Google and you will always find promo codes to reduce the price by 10%-40%. We always offer great discounts on Christmas, Independence Day, and other public holidays.

Sometimes you find out that the price for this or that template is a bit higher, but, remember about the value we provide. All our customers get more goodies as bonuses to their templates. For example, all our products, except for GPL WordPress themes, are delivered with HD images shown in the demo. It’s a good opportunity to save, as there’s no need to buy stock photos. At TemplateMonster, you can also benefit from free professional technical support.

How long are your templates supported?

TemplateMonster is the only website developer that provides this service for a lifetime without charging any extra payment now. Our competitors provide it for free only for a limited period.

I don’t think it’s fair. Some people don’t use the template straight away. It’s your right to decide when to use the product you paid for. But with a time limit on free support, you’ll have to pay extra money to get consultation, say, in half a year or stay on your own with your issues.

This is not our method. We are ready to help our customers any time at TemplateMonster (the same day, in a week, in a month, in a year, and so on). What’s even more important, our team of experts works until it’s over. Every customer should be absolutely satisfied.

Though, words are not a weighty argument. Thanks to our unsurpassed customer service, we entered the top three of web design companies per the TrustPilot rating. Do you believe this bullet-proof resource with verified customers reviews? So many people can’t be under a delusion.

Here is a video to prove my words.

David, what happens with a purchased template as web technologies continue to evolve?

It’s a good question. You need to update your site regularly and redesign it from time to time if you don’t want to look outdated. Trends are changeable, you’d better not miss the moment when your site starts looking rusty. Customers never take your seriously if your corporate web presentation looks outmoded.

I also recommend you to check how user-friendly your site is in terms of navigation, readability, and other essential aspects. It’s very important to test how it works on smartphones and tablets all of us use to browse the web on the go. Your site must adjust to all modern mobile devices, otherwise you will lose clients. If your site is not mobile-friendly, you can forget about high SEO rankings. Google doesn’t like such kind of sites.
BTW, flagships owners may not worry about the matter. Their websites will serve them for many years to come as regular updates are included into templates packages prices.

Thank you very much, David. You provided lots of thought provoking information for both practicing and aspiring web professionals. Have any more questions for David? Ask them in the comment section below.

Adobe Spark overview

I recently spoke with Ben Forta (Adobe) about Adobe Spark (a new set of free tools to allow individuals to create compelling and creative content quickly.. In this short overview, he discusses those aspects important to web professionals everywhere. The full discussion is available to our members (once you login, scroll down to find the link).

Ben Forta Interview from Mark DuBois on Vimeo.

Adobe Spark is a tool we encourage our members to try.

Best always,

Mark DuBois

Community Evangelist and Executive Director

For those who desire a transcript of the above captioned interview, we provide the following.

[Mark DuBois] Today, I have the distinct pleasure of speaking with Ben Forta, Senior Director of Education at Adobe.
Ben, thank you very much for agreeing to this; we’re going to talk a little about Adobe Spark. I’m wondering if you could share with our listeners what Adobe Spark is.
[Ben Forta] Great, thank you Mark. Happy to be chatting with you and Happy New Year. Adobe Spark is a new product. It has only been out since mid-last year, so it is relatively new
Spark is a tool that is made available either through a series of apps in iOS or as a web experience running inside the web browser. It’s a way to create content, content that is designed to be easily shared and easily distributed so you can do things
create really interesting graphics designed specifically for social media videos for story telling or idea sharing or create long form stories in text format. It is a way to take ideas that are really important that you want to share and publish in web friendly, very shareable social friendly formats and do it quickly and easily and it is fun. It is important to know that the kind of content you create in Spark, you could create in our other tools. You could create images in Photoshop and you can create videos in Premiere and web pages in Dreamweaver; sometimes you want a tool that does less but does it really quickly and easily and guarantees good looking professional results. That is problem Spark tries to solve. Getting something done very quickly and efficiently and looks really good and is designed for sharing. And I should add that Spark is designed for a very shared, very social space, which also helps.
[Mark DuBois] That is very encouraging. If you had a single message to share with web professionals, what is the single biggest message you want to convey to the web professionals listening to this?
[Ben Forta] The single most important thing to know if no matter what you are trying to do, time is of the essence. Our job has always been to give tools to be able to create content and publish get the work out there and share create and be as expressive as possible. Spark just continues that mission and solves the problem we haven’t really addressed before that is getting things out there really quickly. In today’s age of instant information, campaigns that are run on line on Twitter or Facebook, for example. The days of spending many days, weeks or months on assets are still important, but not always. That is not the only way to create content anymore. Spark is a complement to the tools you already have in that it solves the problem of creating compelling content that is designed specifically for online use and social engagement very quickly. It is a new tool. It is easy and fun to use. It has no learning curve. Runs on multiple platforms, synch built in. It solves a new set of problems in a new era. Everything we are hearing from hundreds of thousands/ millions of users is it works very well.
[Mark DuBois] I am personally quite pleased with it as I said earlier I could live without it at this point. And for those that are listening, I’ll include the URL. It is Spark.Adobe.Com and you can sign up and use it. Ben, thank you very much. Do you have any last thoughts, comments about Spark in general?
[Ben Forta] You really should give it a try. Spark.Adobe.com. It runs on Windows, it runs on Mac, even Chromebooks for younger users. If you go there from an iOS device, iPhone or iPad it will give you access to the apps. Try it, nothing to lose. Login with Adobe login, login with a social login and give it a try and I think you will be amazed at how quickly and effortlessly you can start creating very compelling content that is fun and engaging and interacts with everything else we have done. And another nice thing about it is these apps are small and focused. We are innovating very quickly. In the last few months alone there have been multiple new features all the time. We love hearing from users especially very creative users. How to improve them. Let us know. The team is available. The Spark team is on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, they are everywhere. We love rolling in new features all the time. Give it a try and give us your feedback.
[Mark DuBois] Excellent. Ben, thank you very much for your time today.

Comparison of content management systems

We have previously mentioned this infographic in some of our social media feeds (Twitter and Facebook). We thought it might be helpful to provide this on our blog as well (with the author’s permission). In our opinion, it is a good perspective of the three major content management systems. Clicking on the infographic will open a new browser window/ tab with the full article.


Presented by Skilled.co (they have further information supporting this infographic on their site)

 

SSL Certificates as a Protection Tool for Web Professionals

As we all know, SSL certificates help protect the information transmitted between the web server and the client.  Given the increasing cyber security attacks (and associated media coverage), data breaches and theft of payment processing data, we thought it appropriate to remind readers of the importance of SSL certificates.

Vivek Ram is a Technical Blog Writer from Comodo. He writes about information security, focusing on web application security. He provided the following information we wanted to share with readers of our blog. Many thanks to Vivek for providing this article.

“As a small business owner or even the owner of a larger company or ecommerce site, cyber security news about a data breach in payment processing on a website may be just one of the things that keep you up at night.
The good news is that cyber security consultants and professionals can develop plans, run a network security audit and even develop a network security policy that is designed to keep this type of data safe from hackers and breaches.
However, there are also some very simple security measures that can be put in place to provide encryption security between the server and the browser. This is known as SSL or Secure Sockets Layer and it has been the technology in place to protect data transmitted online since its introduction in 1994.
Today, the use of the new version of SSL, Transport Layer Security or TLS, is based on the early SSL technology. Even through TLS is the correct name, most of the Certificate Authorities and IT professionals still refer to it as SSL.
To protect your website and the information transmitted between the web server and the client, SSL certificates provide authentication and encryption. To understand how this provides both customer and user protection as well as protects the site itself, consider the following essential features, factors and functions. ”

The Trust Factor

“When existing customers or new prospective customers arrive at your website, the first thing they will look at is the quality of the landing page. However, once they start adding items to their cart and going through the checkout process, most customers will have taken a glance up at the address bar or to the sides of the page.
What they are looking for is the universal sign of online security. This is the padlock in the address bar that indicates they are on a site using SSL technology. Now, there is also the full green address bar which signifies the use of an EV SSL or Extended Validation certificate. This is the highest level of validation possible through any CA and for any type of website. Most customers aren’t certain about how the technology works, but they do recognize the need to have that padlock and perhaps the green bar present.
Glancing to the side or the bottom of the page will confirm the use of a specific Certificate Authority (CA). All of the major CAs will have their own site seal. This is a graphic that is used to designate the security of the website and the use of a particular product by a particular CA.
With these things in place, your website will have a decrease in the amount of abandoned shopping carts, something that is common if the customer gets through the selection process and then realizes on the checkout page that the padlock or green bar isn’t present.
However, and even more importantly, it makes your website safe for your customers to use. This preserves the reputation of your website and your company.”

Full Encryption at 256 Bits

“The use of SSL/TLS certificates also provides full encryption at the industry standard 256 bits. This encryption and decryption are done through the use of a pair of keys. These two keys use Public Key Infrastructure or PKI to provide internet security protection for online data.
The public key is used to encrypt data between the browser and the server. The public key is available to all because it is public. However, it is only recognized by one unique private key.
The private key is located on the server that hosts the website. When data comes in encrypted by the public key, it is unreadable unless it is decrypted by the private key. This protects all data transmitted from the website including financial information, personal information or even general information.
The public and private key are actually a long string of what looks like random numbers. They are able to recognize each other through a complicated mathematical relationships that is never duplicated and is completely unique.
The 256 bit encryption is virtually impossible to hack or break, even with brute force types of hacking attempts. The level of encryption offered by SSL certificate technology has changed over time and will continue to evolve as computer systems advance.”

Validation and Verification Process

“To further provide complete protection to your website against spoof websites or fraudulent website trying to look like your site, the CAs have to follow a rigid and very complex process to verify and validate the application for any type of SSL certificate.
This is based on the AICPA/CICA WebTrust for Certification Authorities Principles and Criteria and outlines what verifications must be completed for the various SSL certificates at the different validation levels.
As hackers or spoofing sites have to provide the necessary information and this has to match with records on file with a wide variety of databases and trusted sources, it makes it impossible for these criminals to be able to obtain an SSL certificate for those fraudulent sites. This not only protects your website but with the SSL certificate in place, it will also protect your customers.”

What’s happening with WCAG

I had the opportunity to speak with Glenda Sims (Deque) about all the activities happening with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) these days. In this 5 minute overview, she discusses those aspects important to web professionals everywhere. The full 22 minute discussion is available to our members (once you login, scroll down to find the link).

In a nutshell, there is a great need for those who have a solid background in making sites accessible. The demand far exceeds the available work force.

During our discussion, Glenda mentioned these resources. Interested parties may wish to check them further.

Best always,

Mark DuBois

Community Evangelist and Executive Director

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