There’s a high chance that if you’re reading this, you work on a computer for most, if not all of the day. Even if you don’t, there’s still a high chance you’re looking at a screen of some kind for the majority of the day. And that makes you tired. More specifically, it makes your eyes tired. Which them stresses the rest of your body. It’s likely a cycle we all know a little too well. We have steps, however, that can alleviate and even prevent this kind of eye strain so that your job and habits don’t have to negatively impact your overall well-being quite so much.
1. Blink More
Okay, so the actual solution is a little more complicated than that, but in the end, blinking more often can really help prevent eye strain. Even those minute flashes where you’re eyes are covered give your brain a chance to rest. And that time adds up over the day. It’s literally why when you’re strained and stressed that you can simply close your eyes and feel an almost immediate sense of relief. (You can actually tell your boss “I’m just resting my eyes, not sleeping at work” and not be lying!)
Additionally, blinking keeps your eyes lubricated. Not blinking means that your eyes will dry out more often. If that’s something that you’ve noticed bothering you, get some eye drops to keep at your desk to moisturize them often. While that is just treating a symptom of the eye strain rather than rooting out a cause, relief is relief.
Unless you’re sure that you can consciously make yourself blink more often than you normally would (spoiler: you can’t), you need to make a few changes in your workstation and habits. While change can be hard, making these changes won’t be. They’re both simple and easy. Many of the other tips will cause you to blink more often as a by-product, eliminating multiple stressors at once.
2. Change Your Font Color, Size, and Family
If you’re a content creator or web developer, you probably know that what font you choose makes a drastic impact on how much eye strain you endure. Many font families are not ideal for constant and repeated use. What looks great in a screenshot or is fine for a 3-minute-read article might not work for an 8 hour shift of programming or writing. Choosing a font other than Arial or Helvetica (blasphemy, we know) might make more of a difference than you know. The kerning, spacing, and even shape of various fonts can increase readability and make it so that you don’t have to work as hard to decipher the characters.
On top of that, color and size (both independently and in concert) can be one of the largest factors of preventing eye strain. If you have a high-resolution monitor, there’s a good chance that your default font size is pretty small. On top of that, a lot of what you’re reading online and in other places might be low-contrast (light text on a light background). When this is the case, our eyes have to work overtime.
So to fix that, you don’t have to lower the resolution of your screen. No one wants you to give up your screen real estate. Instead, increase the default font sizes in your OS, your code editor, and adjust different web pages in your browser to accommodate larger text. (Usually CTRL/CMD and +/- will do the trick.)
3. Turn Your Brightness Down
This one’s tough for some people, us included. Whether it’s a phone screen, laptop, or the circle of computer monitors you have around you, the brightness is probably way too high. While doing so absolutely makes the colors pop and the whole experience generally much more aesthetically pleasing.
But it also strains your eyes at an accelerated rate. You will need to find the balance of brightness that works for you. If the monitors are like lamps in a darkened room, you might have a problem. But if you’re straining to see and the OS appears dim and dull, you’ve gone to far the wrong way. Once you find the right brightness, though, your eyes will be much better off.
Also, if your office or workspace has fluorescent lighting that reflects off of your monitor, you can get screens and filters that you can affix to it so that you can eliminate external brightness and glare, too.
4. Dark and Reader Modes
You also have access to Dark Mode in a lot of apps to make reading easier, and adjusts the brightness on a software level. MacOS and iOS even have them built in. This gives you a darker, less-bright screen with a decent contrast ratio of lighter text on darker backgrounds. It’s easier on the eyes in both daytime and in darker environments. We highly suggest working this way. Dark mode has saved everyone at Elegant Themes a lot of money on headache medicine over the years.
You can also try programs like Dark Reader to make any website or app appear in dark mode, whether they support it natively or not. Also, most browsers (mobile and desktop) have a “reader” mode where the text size, font, and color palette are adjustable with other non-essential elements not rendered. Take advantage of these tools. Your eyes will thank you.
5. Consider Your Posture
Where you are in relation to your screen plays a pretty big role in eye strain, too. Not to mention muscle strain and shoulder/neck aches. You want to be looking at your monitor front-on at eye level. Or, well, slightly below. You shouldn’t have to look up or down to see it. Your neck should be neutral. Keep this in mind when working on a laptop because you’re going to have your head titled down a lot of the time. Not only is this bad for your posture, most screens have a slightly different look from various angles. Colors shift a little, glare hits it differently, and so on.
You will also want to make sure you’re the right distance away from your monitor. You ideally want to be between 20 and 27 inches away from your screen. It differs from person to person because of monitor size and setup. Generally, though, you want to be able to just reach out and touch the screen with the tip of your finger from your neutral sitting position. If you keep it at this distance, you should be able to take the entire screen into view and not have to search all around for points of interest, saving your eyes motion and wear.
Sitting too close to the screen won’t make you go blind, unlike what our parents told us when we were kids, but it can make your eyes work overtime. And that leads to easily preventable eyestrain.
6. Use Everything Anti-Blue
While the jury (read: science) is out on just what effect blue light has on your health and eyes and sleep, the evidence does point toward limiting your exposure to it as being good for your eyes. Most phones these days have a “night mode” which effectively adjusts the color temperature of the screen after certain hours. You can generally adjust them for any hours or intensity that works for you. It may seem a little odd warming up your screen’s overall tone, but you get used to it quickly, and it does make long hours of looking at the screen easier and less taxing.
Additionally, there are blue-light filters that you can hook to your monitor like the anti-glare ones we mentioned above. You can buy special “computer glasses” that supposedly filter out the light, too, which are fine if you wear contacts or don’t need glasses. For those who need prescription lenses, however, you can ask your eye center about getting the lenses covered in an anti-blue light coating that does the same thing. And bonus, sometimes that coating even makes your eyes flash purple to some people. (No kidding. It’s very surreal for them.)
Eye strain might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who deals with it can tell you just how intrusive it can be. If you have never experienced it from spending too much time in front of a screen, consider yourself lucky. But be proactive about making sure that you don’t. And if you’re a constant sufferer like many of us, it only takes a little effort and a few tweaks to make some high-quality adjustments that will make a big difference in your overall wellbeing.
The last thing you want your visitors to experience is a slow-loading website that chugs along and doesn’t deliver the information or services that they expected. If you’re trying to sell a product or even just get people to read your blog posts, then a slow website speed is going to cause major issues that will create a bad first impression.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a few simple and easy steps to help you improve your website speed so that you never scare off potential viewers.
1. Compress files
If you’re using a lot of images and videos then it’s a good idea to compress those files to ensure that they’re not taking too long to load. This is especially noticeable on mobile devices when network coverage can be a little flakey.
2. Choose the right hosting option
When hosting a website, you typically have a few options; shared, VPS or dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting is the cheapest and you’ll share resources like CPU, hard drive space and RAM with other websites. This means that you’ll occasionally get slow service if other sites are utilizing more of those resources.
VPS hosting is also a form of shared hosting, but you won’t actually share the resources. Instead, you’ll have your own dedicated resources that are guaranteed.
Dedicated hosting is having your very own hardware that is entirely yours. You get complete control over it and it’s the most expensive option, but also the most customizable and the one that is least prone to performance issues.
In short, avoid shared hosting and go with VPS hosting if you’re on a budget, but choose dedicated hosting if you know what you’re doing and need a lot of space and control over your website.
3. Enable caching
Caching basically means storing parts of your website’s content on the user’s device so that when it loads the next time, it’s faster. Enabling this will speed up the user’s experience after the first visit, making it a great way to speed up your site.
4. Using a CDN
A CDN, or content delivery network, helps users download your content by placing it on a global network of servers that are accessed depending on the location of the user. This means that files will download faster because they’re hosted on a server that is closer to the physical location of the user, instead of having just a single location where they are accessed.
5. Lower plugin numbers
If you’re using WordPress then you’ll have probably noticed that you can install plenty of useful-sounding plugins. Unfortunately, these contribute to slower loading times and it’s essential that you do what you can to minimize their use while still retaining functionality on your website.
6. HTTP requests
When you visit a website, an HTTP request is made for every element that you have on your page like images, stylesheets and videos. You can optimize your website by reducing the number of HTTP requests. This is generally done by removing any requests that are unnecessary, such as images that aren’t displayed or can be replaced with a more efficient option.
The Wyze camera feels like a scam. While companies like Nest and Amazon sell indoor cameras that cost anywhere from $120 to $200 or more, Wyze Labs is selling its camera for $20 (plus $6 shipping). This seems ludicrous. I was suspicious when I tried out the cameras, but if there’s a major downside, I’m struggling to see it.
Before we get to my experience, let’s get the obvious question out of the way: How can this camera be so cheap? For starters, Wyze Labs licenses the hardware from a Chinese manufacturer for dirt cheap. All Wyze adds is the app (which we’ll come back to later). The service costs are also extremely low. Out of the box, the Wyze camera can detect motion and save 12-second clips using Amazon Web Services, but that’s it. If you want continuous recording, you’ll need to supply your own Micro SD card. Unfortunately, there’s no option to record or automatically backup footage to, say, Dropbox or your own networked storage. On the other hand, that’s one less location you have to secure to keep your footage away from prying eyes.
Combine that minimal feature set and production cost with a thin margin (which Wyze hopes to make up for in high volume) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a cheap camera that’s surprisingly not crap. Depending on how much you trust smaller manufacturers, it may even be the best choice for monitoring your home.
The Hardware May Be Inexpensive, But It’s Not Cheap
Compared to something like a smartphone, a home security camera doesn’t need much when it comes to hardware design. It doesn’t need to “feel good in the hand” or even look that attractive. It just needs to mount easily and point in a certain direction. On those points, the Wyze Cam excels. The camera’s base is magnetic so you can attach it to a metal surface with absolutely no setup whatsoever. To test it while I was out of town for CES, for example, I attached one camera to the side of my fridge. This gave me an excellent look of the kitchen and nearby office without having to drill holes or set up mounting plates.
If you don’t happen to have a convenient metal surface near where you’d like to mount the camera, it also comes with a sticky pad and a metal plate. Just stick the plate where you want and turn any spot in your house into a magnetic surface to mount your camera. Normally we’d be wary of a stick-on solution, but the camera is so light that it holds remarkably well.
The base of the camera is where the real magic happens on the hardware. With two joints and a rotating plate on the bottom, you can point the camera in nearly any direction. This simple design gives the camera a degree of flexibility that competing cameras can’t always match—and when they can, it’s not as flexible or doesn’t have the same range of motion. For a $20 camera, it has an impressively simple yet powerful design.
The Wyze App Gives More Expensive Competitors a Run For Their Money
Even if Wyze sold its app as a software suite for $20 without including a camera, it still might just be worth it. You can use the two-way microphone to speak through your camera and hear responses. Unlike other cameras, this is true two-way audio, not a walkie-talkie type solution where you have to take turns. You can also save photos or record your own clips (which will be stored on the AWS servers if you don’t have a Micro SD card) in an album.
With a Micro SD card inserted, you can record as much footage as your card can handle. A timeline in Playback mode lets you scroll back and forth through your footage to find the moment you want to see. You can also see a time lapse of all the footage you’ve recorded if you want to get the gist of what happened without watching it in real time.
Wyze also offers several smart features. It can detect motion or sound to save clips (though this can be turned off if you don’t want your footage stored on third-party servers) and creates a timeline of each event. This lets you easily see at a glance whenever something happened inside your home. You can narrow motion detection to certain hours of the day as well, if you’d rather only monitor for action at night. It can also detect smoke or CO2 alarms by recognizing the sound (no smart alarms required) and let you know immediately when something’s happening at your home.
The app interface isn’t always the easiest to use (it would be nice to be able to resize the history timeline for scrolling back through long security footage, for example), but for the included software with a $20 camera, it’s hard to be unimpressed.
Wyze Stores Very Little Data, and Encrypts It All
My biggest question with a $20 camera right off the bat is “What is it doing with my data?” For the most part, the answer to that question is that it doesn’t really collect much data at all. Unlike Nest or Amazon, there’s no option to continuously record video on third-party servers. If you want to store your camera feed indefinitely, you’ll need to supply your own Micro SD card. Your storage will then be limited to whatever fits on that card (with the oldest data being continuously deleted to make room for new footage).
What if you don’t install an SD card? In that case you have the optional ability to record twelve second clips whenever your camera detects motion. According to Waze, these clips use end-to-end encryption, so an attacker that intercepts the footage (or finds it stored on AWS) wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. Clips are also deleted after 14 days unless you save them, so there’s not a huge backlog of footage to pull from. If you’re still not comfortable with that, you can turn off motion detection and no footage will ever be recorded. Again, unless you supply your own Micro SD card.
Finally, there’s live streaming. If you open the app on your phone, you can get a live view of your camera’s feed whether you’re recording or not. According to a Wyze rep on Reddit, the streaming service is provided to Wyze by a company called ThroughTek. The video feed is encrypted so anyone snooping on your video stream won’t be able to see your video, and Wyze has even taken extra steps to make sure that video traffic is only routed through North American servers.
That’s not to say Wyze is without security concerns. Most glaringly, there is no two-factor authentication on your Wyze account. In a world where companies get hacked regularly, this should be mandatory for everyone, but especially an account with a direct video feed inside your home. It’s not quite enough to nix our recommendation (especially since the product is only a few months old), but it’s the kind of thing that needs to be at the top of Wyze’s priority list to fix.
Placing an internet-connected camera inside your home is always going to be a risk. Whether you feel comfortable trusting a company like Wyze is going to come down to personal preference. Personally, the local storage and option to turn off motion detected clips were enough to make me comfortable leaving two cameras trained on my apartment for a week. However, the lack of two-factor authentication on my Wyze account would give me pause if it’s not added before too long.
Wyze Camera Review: The Cheapest Home Security System You’ll Ever FindFor the price, though, you’re making very few sacrifices. Competitors like Nest and Amazon have a more robust feature set, but not by much. They also require ongoing subscriptions for some of their best features, which makes the higher price point for their cameras that much less palatable. If you want to monitor your home for dirt cheap, and you can bring yourself to trust a relatively new company, the Wyze camera might be perfect for you.
Who would have thought, back in October 2010, that Instagram would become the platform that completely changed the way we socialize, shop and interact in 2019. And this is true for both personal accounts and brands.
Now, more than ever before, Instagram is an integral resource to many influencers and businesses. It has the ability to spread a wide reach and influence billions. On top of that, eCommerce business owners are able to unleash the potential of their goods through new features that were announced at Facebook’s F8 conference earlier in May 2019.
In order to make sure you’re up-to-date with the trendiest platform, here are eight new Instagram features to watch out for in 2019.
01. Shoppable tags
This update is mainly geared towards social media influencers (both micro and macro). Known by Instagram as ‘Creators,’ these influencers are used by brands to promote either products or services. Now, these Creators are able to a linked ‘tag’ a product or brand within their post. Thus, by simply tapping on the tag (that displays the name and the price of the article), viewers are redirected to the product’s or service’s page within the brand’s website.
This feature enables a smoother process for browsers to discover what brands or influencers have on offer, along with a better optimization of the conversion process for the announcers.
02. Shop within Instagram
Instagram is perfect for displaying and talking about products or services. But when it comes down to actually closing the circle and buying whatever is being advertised, users have to eventually leave the app to complete the process. Well, not anymore.
Starting with a few selected accounts, Instagram has now released an in-app checkout feature. Previously, influencers had no real way of directly selling to their followers. They could talk about a product in the description of a post and prompt visitors to either click the link in their bio or swipe up on Instagram Stories. This new Instagram feature is a game-changer for influencers. Not only can they show off the brands they represent, but they can also act as a salesperson and drive purchases directly within Instagram.
03. Sharing feed posts in Stories
The platform has (finally) found a solution to sharing content from feed posts into Stories. This is excellent news for brands and small businesses. Imagine you’re an eCommerce store owner selling sunglasses. A customer has bought your glasses and posted a picture of themselves wearing your latest summer accessory. In the description they give a quick word of praise about your brand and tag you in the post. Now, you as the eCom store owner, can utilize this valuable UGC (user-generated content) and directly share that post to your Instagram Stories.
Here’s how to share a feed post to your Stories:
Tap the airplane button below the post (like you would if you wanted to send the post via DM).
Select the ‘Create a story with the post’ option.
Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background color that matches the original post. You can then add more features or text to the post if you wish.
All posts that are shared via Stories include a link back to the original post and also state the poster’s name. It’s a great way to show off your clients and further spread the word about your booming business.
04. Interactive stickers in Stories
Users can now add quiz stickers in their Stories. This allows them to ask a question and give multiple choice answers to the viewers. Game players will be able to see if they are wrong or right and brands will be able to see responses in real time.
This feature is an excellent way to interact with your visitors as well as promote your service or product. Questions can be easy and fun or something brand specific. Let’s say you’re a skin care brand – you can ask which ingredient is best for anti-aging. After you reveal the answer, continue with the same train of thought by explaining the formula and showing off your products that include that specific ingredient.
05. New camera design
The selfie-era is here to stay. How do we know this? By Instagram’s upgraded camera design called ‘Create Mode.’ The new camera includes a semicircular mode switcher that makes it easy to find and use the fun filters we all know and love. The main idea behind this update is to make it easier for users to share content without the need for a photo or video. Following the theme of interactivity, users can also add text, stickers and questions to their front facing camera creation.
06. Donation sticker
Considering the amount of people who use Instagram, it’s no surprise that crowdfunding has made its way into the social channel. With the donation sticker feature, you can now raise money for nonprofits straight from within the app.
To get started:
Open up ‘Stories’.
Take or select a picture from your camera roll.
From the stickers selection, choose ‘Donation.’
You can customize the sticker using Instagram Stories’ creative tools.
After it’s live, you can swipe up to see the total amount of people that have donated. Important to note: 100% of the money you raise will go directly to the nonprofit of your choice.
07. Creator profile
In the same way that Facebook released a Facebook business page option, Instagram is now following suite. Insta’s version will be referred to as a ‘Creator profile.’ It’s an influencer’s dream as the profile will give businesses access to an array of insights and in-depth analytics. Some of these include: engagement stats, knowing when your audience is online, and detailed demographic information.
The creator profile also enables businesses or influencers to have access to specific data which shows who followed or unfollowed them as a result of their shared content. The specialized profile allows for DM (direct message) filtering options. Now, creators can rank messages in order of relevance (messages from family, friends or other brands). More control comes with being able to set your preferred method of contact – that could be email, text, call or DM.
However, much like the coveted ‘swipe up’ feature, the creator profile is said to be reserved for accounts with a following of 10K or more.
08. Hiding ‘like’ count
In an effort for influencers and creators to combat a ‘pressurized environment’ according to Adam Mosseri of Facebook, Instagram is testing out the notion of doing away with showing how many ‘likes’ a picture has. The owner of the image will have a total number, but browsers will only be able to see a list of who has liked the image.
The ‘hiding’ of comments seems to be a way to make Instagram a more authentic place where users can connect to their followers without the added pressure of competitiveness. For now, the feature is still in the trial phase. It will be interesting to see how people feel about not being able to ‘judge’ an image based on its ‘like’ success.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are one of the most helpful parts of your business. Being able to keep track of your customers, lead generation, contact history, and so much more is essential to running an efficient business. Especially an online one. However, you might not want to use an external platform like HubSpot or ZoHo. If you want to keep things in your own WordPress dashboard, there are a number of options that you can choose from that will keep the money flowing and the customers happy.
1. vCita CRM and Lead Management
We have covered vCita plugins before, and they are pretty impressive. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that their CRM plugin would be, too. A part of their small business management suite, the CRM tools full-featured and robust, letting you take payments, put the onus of starting a conversation on the clients, messaging with them after that, and setting up meetings easily and fluidly, all while tracking their journeys through the process so they can be funneled to the right person on your team.
vCita doesn’t make the simplest software out there, so you may have to put in some time learning how things work and getting the details sorted, but when you do, your WP back-end will be connected to an incredibly powerful platform that won’t disappoint.
WP-CRM is exactly what it sounds like: a CRM for WordPress. Well-named, right? As the plugin page says, “your WP control panel can effectively be used to manage all your customers, vendors, partners, affiliates, etc.” By utilizing the base WordPress user system, the CRM plugin lets you take information that you likely already have and make better use of it than you can by default. You can manage correspondence and messaging, add labels and attributes to them so that you can filter results and find who you need quickly, and much more. If the free plugin on the WP.org repository isn’t enough for you, there are add-ons that you can purchase to expand the functionality of the CRM in your dashboard. And if there’s something you’d like in the system that hasn’t been added, there’s an open GitHub repo. That way, you can contribute to the project yourself.
At their core, Customer Relation Management systems are really fancy contact forms and email systems. They keep track of who you’ve talked to, when, and the general history of their communications with you. UpiCRM takes that base and runs with it. Because there are roughly 14 gazillion contact forms on the WP.org repo, Upi lets them do the heavy lifting. By integrating with pretty much all the major players (“WPforms, Contact Form7, Contact Form 7 DB, Gravity Form, Ninja Forms, CalderaForms, Cforms” and more according to the plugin page), Upi is free to work on the CRM features that matter the most to you: the relationship and lead generation. Honestly, UpiCRM is one of the most fleshed-out CRMs you can have in your WP dashboard. You have analytics, user funneling, hierarchies, tracking, external lead aggregation. As well as team set-up and collaboration, customer lifecycle, and more. And did we mention it’s free? Well, it is. There are zero reasons not to give it a shot now.
Perfex is a premium CRM that comes in at $59 on CodeCanyon. Don’t let that sway you, though. Because in this instance, you certainly do get what you pay for. Invoicing is one of the major highlights of the software, and on top of that, there’s a ticketing system where you can track support issues as well as customer inquiries and communications. Like external CRMs like HubSpot, Perfex can track time so you can bill effectively, track your leads and import them from different places, as well as annotate them and create team-based proposals so you know what stage of the process everyone is on with everything. Surveys, goal tracking, and even internal messaging/memos/announcements can keep your team in-the-know. Additionally, Perfex uses custom fields for the customer data and leads, so you likely already know how to work with these from the moment you install it. With reports and user/staff privileges, if you want an affordable CRM that can compete with the Big Names, check out Perfex.
WP ERP isn’t just a CRM. It’s a full business manager that just happens to include CRM as a core part. The plugin page for WP ERP says the plugin comes with three core parts : HR Management, CRM, and Accounting — with Project Management available through a secondary plugin. If this sounds too good to be true for a free plugin on the WP repository…it is. In the free version of the WP ERP CRM (how’s that for an acronym?), you get contact management and filtering, schedules for users and clients and staff, reports, and various contact groups and life stages of their relationship with you. For some users, those are the major points of why they need a CRM. In the premium versions, of which there are 5 tiers, you can get HubSpot, MailChimp, Salesforce, and WooCommerce syncing, integration with Gravity Forms as well as extras like SMS messaging to customers and clients and so on.
The pricing isn’t absurd, though, because the tiers run from $149 to $1199 per year, and those are very competitive withother CRM platforms. The major elements missing from the free plan for most folks will be external syncing and email campaigns, but if you handle that outside of WP, you will find a lot to love here.